Brave Imogen’s appeal for help

Imogen Whittaker  Photograph by Richard Walker/ www.imagenorth.net
Imogen Whittaker Photograph by Richard Walker/ www.imagenorth.net
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Imogen Whittaker spent more than two years fighting leukaemia, now she is asking for you to back a campaign. Catherine Scott reports.

A BRAVE Doncaster schoolgirl is urging people to clear out their wardrobes and drawers to help save more lives like hers.

Imogen Whittaker, from Skellow, who last week celebrated the end of her two-and-a-half years of treatment for leukaemia, is supporting Give Up Clothes for Good, a partnership between TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens.

Each bag of donated items will be transformed when they are sold in Cancer Research UK shops into vital funds for research into cures and kinder treatments for cancers affecting children, teens and young adults.

Imogen was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in the summer of 2014. Her mum, Clair Whittaker, 32, noticed Imogen had been feeling poorly on and off since January, with a range of chest infections, night sweats, lethargy, loss of appetite and bruising easily. But despite visits to the doctor, it was all put down to just ‘one of those things’. However, during a holiday break to Scarborough, Imogen complained that she was tired and her legs hurt. Clair then decided to look up her symptoms online.

“It threw leukaemia at me straight away, so I took her to A&E at the hospital in Scarborough.”

A blood test comfirmed Clair’s fears. The next morning Imogen was taken by ambulance to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and started on chemotherapy as soon as she arrived. Clair was given a treatment plan for Imogen and was told that it would last for two-and-a-half years. “I couldn’t believe it would take that long. Her treatment was very intense to start with and the steroids she was given changed her completely as a person,” recalls Clair.

“She became aggressive and put on a lot of weight. She stopped walking, talking and playing. It ripped my heart out because it felt like my little girl had gone, she was just a shadow of herself. When you hear the words your child has cancer, it feels like someone has pulled the rug from beneath you. I was terrified that I was going to lose her.”

Imogen is offically in remission and the family had a big party to celebrate.

“I am so grateful for the treatment that saved her life,” says Clair.

“Success stories like hers would not be possible without Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work, which in turn relies on everyone who raises crucial funds.”

Every year, around 130 children are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire.

Since 2004 Give Up Clothes for Good – a partnership between TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens – has raised millions to fund life-saving research into children’s cancers. The campaign is asking people to Bag up any unwanted clothing, accessories or quality homeware, bring to any TK Maxx store and beat children’s cancers sooner

cruk.org/kidsandteens.