Founder and chair
A very personal journey and a tribute.
My Shining Star has a little bit of a story behind it and how it was founded, which is important to our journey….
In late 2009, cancer affected my family when my 8 year old cousin was diagnosed with Leukaemia out of nowhere. This was my family’s first experience with childhood cancer and the horror and upheaval that came along with it.
In January 2014, I was on maternity leave when my dad passed away suddenly at the age of 53. Whilst experiencing such intense grief, my one year old daughter then had several admissions to intensive care (9 times in 8 months to be precise) and we nearly lost her. She is fine now but I remember the walls of the hospital caving in, my husband having unpaid time off work trying to juggle my other daughter and helping me. I remember thinking, ”how do families of children with long term illnesses do this?’. Being apart as a family was difficult, so was coping financially.
Two weeks after Eliza’s last admission, my friends two year old daughter Ruby was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was such a horrendous shock, her daughter being 6 months older than my own and so seemingly well. Being touched by grief and loss and my hospital experience - I then went on a crusade to support the family practically- and by spearheading the fundraising for Ruby’s treatment. This campaign was huge- brought a huge spotlight to childhood cancer and we raised £600,000 in just 10 months! The fundraising was a labour of love and a coping mechanism- in paying tribute to my dad (My Shining Star) and making sure that Ruby’s life wasn’t decided by money. In 2016, I was the overall pride in Medway winner. This was only a platform to help others. I always said if we help ten more families through a difficult time, it is a job well done. I had a massive amount of support from a fantastic community and from friends who really wanted to make a difference. Most make up the My Shining Star trustees. It really has taken a village! I believe the event of 2014 onwards have been turned on their head to create something positive and amazing. A tribute and coping mechanism. In memory of my dad but of so many children that have made a huge impact on us as human beings.
There just isn’t enough support for siblings who struggle, bereaved families and for hardship. But we are so proud to say that we are a small part of trying to change that. Every family we help mean a lot to us. We try to give them as much nurturing and practical support as possible and families facing this horrific journey have become friends.
I am pleased to say that Ruby is in remission and has had her very last cancer scan. The world is hers to conquer.