Three sisters take on triathlon to say thank you to Sheffield Children’s for lifesaving care

Three sisters from Sprotbrough near Doncaster are set to take on a triathlon to say thank you for the care middle sister, Abigail, received when she was diagnosed with cancer at just five-years-old.

In November 2016 Abigail’s mum, Jo, noticed her daughter was incredibly pale, had low energy and started to have nosebleeds. Abigail was taken to her local doctor who ran some blood tests.

Mum Jo said, “Abigail went from being a ball of energy to wanting to be carried and holding my hand because she couldn’t keep up with her sisters, we knew something was wrong.”

“The blood tests came back and showed that Abigail had incredibly low haemoglobin levels and we were transferred straight to Sheffield Children’s.”

Once at Sheffield Children’s, the family met the team from the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward who quickly diagnosed Abigail with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.

Jo continued: “Within twelve hours of arriving at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Abigail was in and out of theatre to check her blood levels, we had been given the diagnosis and we were being told about the chemotherapy she would need. It was like the bottom fell out of our world.”

“It’s the sort of thing that never happens to you, you read about it, and you think you won’t experience anything like this yourself. We were terrified that she wouldn’t live and at five-years-old, how do you explain to her what is happening? The fear was all consuming and we would have done anything to stop it and protect Abigail from it all.”

Abigail went on to have daily chemotherapy for three years, having treatment on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s and also at home, through oral treatment administered by her parents.

Jo continued: “Abigail took it all in her stride and showed us the way, she was a force to be reckoned with. The staff on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward were amazing, they provided entertainment whilst she had treatment and supported us all. The doctors explained everything to her, so she didn’t fear things, and everyone was so kind. The whole place was just amazing.”

In 2019, after three years of chemotherapy and treatment, Abigail rang the ward bell to mark the end of treatment, surrounded by her sisters and her family.

Now, two years after ringing the bell, nine-year-old Abigail and her sisters, Isobel (11) and Ellena (7) are taking on a triathlon or as they have aptly named it, a Tri-Abi-Thon to say thank you for the care Abigail received.

The sisters have so far raised over £2,000 and will be taking on their challenge on 1st June by completing a 10-mile walk, followed by a 10-mile bike ride and then will swim 10 lengths of a pool, all in under 24 hours.

Big sister Isobel said, “It will be a challenge, but it will be worth it if we can raise money to make the hospital even better for other families. They were fantastic with Abigail making her well again and they always looked after me and Ellena when we went to visit.”

Money raised through Abigail, Ellena and Isobel’s challenge will go towards The Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s where Abigail received her treatment.

The Charity are raising money to make the ward bigger and brighter with en-suite bedrooms and space for a parent to sleep more comfortably alongside their child. The redevelopment will also see most bedrooms face Weston Park, providing natural light for patients experiencing long stays.

Mum Jo said: “The ward needs a makeover to make it more up to date and create more personal spaces for the children, they are all going through so much, and the improvements will make a huge difference.”

“Our family made up the name for the challenge and we loved Tri-Abi-Thon. We felt it was time to say a real thank you and the refurbishment is a perfect reason for us to do something different. We hope the money raised can make the facilities better for other children who need it.”

Freya Kingswood, Senior Fundraising Assistant at The Children’s Hospital Charity said, “We are so grateful to Abigail, Isobel and Ellena for taking on this incredible challenge to raise money for the new ward. Every penny raised will change the lives of more children like Abigail who need the ward so on behalf of everyone at Sheffield Children’s we’d like to say a big thank you to them.”

To find out more about the Tri-Abi-Thon and to support the families fundraising efforts please visit