Inspirational Yorkshire woman, 21, and her family spend five years raising £50,000 for charity that helped her with childhood cancer

A woman from Halifax and her family have raised nearly £50,000 for the Candlelighters charity after helping her with childhood cancer.

Niamh Sedgwick, who recovered from childhood cancer. From the left, dad Ian Sedgwick, mum Marie Sedgwick, boyfriend Daniel Fox, Niamh Sedgwick and grandad Godfrey Hone.
Niamh Sedgwick, who recovered from childhood cancer. From the left, dad Ian Sedgwick, mum Marie Sedgwick, boyfriend Daniel Fox, Niamh Sedgwick and grandad Godfrey Hone.

Niamh Sedgwick, 21, who grew up in Northowram and now lives in Stainland, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three with a 12cm tumour of the kidney.

Niamh underwent a major operation to remove the tumour, several minor operations, six months of chemotherapy and a five-year remission period and got the all clear when she was eight.

During this time, Niamh and her family were supported by Candlelighters, who support families facing children’s cancer across Yorkshire.

“We were so thankful as a family to Candlelighters that we committed to raising funds for five years - the same time as my planned remission period,” said Niamh, who attended St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School and Northowram Primary School, and then Lightcliffe Academy and Bradford Grammar School.

“We held a 50 mile sponsored walk and several Niamh Sedgwick Candlelighters Golf days which raised nearly £50,000.

“We are so grateful to Candelighters for all the support they have given us, for example, the full-time oncology registrar, the family Sunday lunches, the packed playroom and play staff, books, games, parents kitchen, wonderful gadgets and state-of-the-art equipment, along with many other things.

“My older sister Grace and older brother Joe attended the sibling support groups and we went to the most magical event of the year for oncology kids and their families – the Christmas party. We also were able to used the Candlelighters holiday chalet at Primrose Valley where all of the family could spend quality time together relaxing and having fun.”

Niamh had a Wilms tumour, a type of childhood cancer that forms in the kidneys. She started chemo and after a month of treatment had a seven-hour operation to remove the tumour which had infiltrated into surrounding tissue.

“During the operation, the team found I had a double kidney on the affected side and both were removed, leaving me with one functioning kidney,” she said.

“The wound was closed with over 50 clips right across my tummy to around my back. As I continued with the chemo I started to lose my hair and eventually became bald. As I was so young, we all just embraced it.

“Although I was very frail during chemo, I was back at nursery full time after five months. A year later just before I was due to start reception class at school I had a major blockage and had a further operation with clips and was cartwheeling around the garden four days after the op. I started school a week later returning back to normality.

“I had regular check ups which became annually when I turned eight. I now haveve annual check ups now and a heart scan every three years to follow up on the possible effects of one of the chemo drugs.

“Due to only having one kidney I was advised to avoid contact sports, however mum and dad wanted me to live a full life. I was always interested in sport, which is what I did throughout school to university, this included athletics, football and netball, where I was captain of the squad and we toured Australia.

“I recently walked a marathon in Newcastle with my two best university friends Erin and Annabelle to raise money for Candlelighters.

“During my annual visits check ups with my specialist oncology nurse, my key worries and problems were associated with needles, death, the cancer returning, and if it would affect my fertility.

“However, I felt much better about these past worries due to the advice and guidance I received.

“I turned 21 last November, a birthday some thought I might never reach, but here I am, happy and healthy.

“I have just finished three years at Northumbria University studying Business with Marketing Management and have just started a year’s paid placement with an international cloud company based in Manchester and the USA.”