When Kelly Roddy was given the all-clear from cancer at the age of nine, she went into fund-raising overdrive. And now, almost 20 years on, the Wearsider is again hoping to help others.
Kelly, who lives in Washington, will be celebrating two decades of being cancer-free in April next year and by then she hopes to have raised at least £1,992 – a nod to the year she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research.
The mum-of-two says she owes a debt of gratitude to research and she, along with her family and friends, wants to help the good work continue. At first doctors thought a seven-year-old Kelly was suffering from anaemia, but within hours of realising it was more serious, she was in the RVI at Newcastle.
She said: “I remember walking onto the ward and seeing all these very poorly children and thinking ‘why am I here? I’m not that sick’.” But gruelling treatment was to follow, which involved the youngster losing her hair twice.
Thankfully, Kelly made a full recovery and in the months after being given the all-clear, raised £5,000 for cancer charities. The current fundraising started earlier this month when Kelly’s husband Paul, 32, a teacher at The Venerable Bede CE Academy in Sunderland, spent a week being sponsored to run to and from work each day, despite recently recovering from a broken sternum.
Ideas have snowballed and Kelly, who is mum to Orlaith, two, and one-year-old Emelie, is in the process of organising sponsored walks, or toddles for the very little ones, jumble sales, raffles, runs, and has even organised a date to shave her head to inspire more donations.
A trained English teacher, Kelly, formerly from Grindon, is also in the process of writing a book detailing her emotional experiences of being a child with leukaemia, as well as that of her parents, Alan and Carol Bestford, with help from the diaries her mum kept of the two-year battle.
Kelly, who will give proceeds from the book to the NECCR, said: “The pair of them were so incredibly strong for me and now I have children myself, I don’t know how they did it.
“I decided to write my story for a number of reasons. Firstly, my love of writing and of reading, secondly, to raise awareness of childhood cancers and what it really means to get that life-changing diagnosis.”