Aalish's story

Every week 184 children from Barnsley, like Aalish, need specialist care at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

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Aalish is all smiles as she gets stuck into some dough to help promote a sweet fundraising day in aid of the hospital that treats her.

The youngster, 7, from Barnsley, is the face of The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Bake it Better Day, calling on families, colleagues, groups and individuals to get baking and raise some dough for Sheffield Children’s Hospital on June 29th.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital sees 9963 children every year from Barnsley, with 260,000 children coming from all over the world each year for the hospital’s specialist treatment. Aalish has been treated at the hospital, on Western Bank, since 2016 when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare and aggressive cancer that caused a tumour in her kidney the size of a tennis ball and a growth on her eye.

“We first noticed something wrong with her eye” said mum, Joanne of Dodworth. “She didn’t have any other symptoms, but her eye was closing. She came to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for an MRI on December 23rd 2015. She was supposed to be down there for 45 minutes but it was a long time. That’s when they said they had found a tumour. I just fell to the floor. We were devastated. She had just turned six and we were scared. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Aalish started treatment the next day, which included stem cell transplant and high dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy over 18 months. By September 2016, scans revealed there was no evidence of disease in her system. But despite the six months of gruelling immunotherapy that followed, on April 19th the family were crushed to discover some of the neuroblastoma had returned to her bones.

“We were all crying” said Joanne. “We had all been ready to ring the bell signalling end of treatment, and then we were told that we had to start more treatment. It was hard to take because we knew how hard the immunotherapy had been on Aalish.”

Aalish is now having chemotherapy to treat the neuroblastoma. 

Joanne added: “Everyone at Sheffield Children’s Hospital has been there for us from the beginning. When Aalish was first diagnosed, our consultant told us to make friends on the ward – and that’s what we did. We want as many people as possible to join Bake it Better Day so we can help more children like Aalish get access to the best possible care, equipment and facilities.”

Cheryl Davidson, community fundraiser at The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We want as many budding bakers as possible to get whipped up into a baking frenzy and raise some dough for our hospital. Every penny raised will help us keep our amazing children’s hospital – one of only four in the UK – at the forefront of paediatric care. Whether you throw an afternoon tea party, a school bun sale, a workplace bake off or a kiddy cake smash – we want as many Barnsley people as possible to join Bake it Better Day this June 29th!”

Register for your Bake it Better Day fundraising pack >

How your money helps

£10 could help buy craft materials for an Artfelt workshop to provide distraction for difficult treatments.

£25 could help buy swimming aids to encourage children to participate in therapy sessions.

£50 could fund a ‘Buzzy Bee’ kit to help distract patients from painful injections.

£100 could help fund life-saving equipment to give children the best chance of a happy and healthy life.

Everything we fund is over and above the NHS provision. Our hospital is testament to the dedication of staff, the generosity of our donors and the courage of our children. We’ll never stop striving to make it better.