Two years after a devastating cancer diagnosis, a 23-year-old mother-of-three from Diss will celebrate this Christmas in full health with her family — and she now urges everybody to donate to the charity that supported her.
Emma-Louise Harris said she spent Christmas 2014, then aged 21, crying on her mother's sofa, after she found a cricket ball-sized lump spreading from her shoulder to her neck on Christmas Eve — later diagnosed in the new year as Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Six months pregnant and already the mother of twins, she was informed by doctors she would need to give birth early, at 34 weeks, via a caesarean section, before starting chemotherapy treatment for her cancer just one week later.
Ms Harris explained it was through the help from cancer support charity CLIC Sargent that she and her family coped with the financial and emotional impacts of her illness.
“My baby girl Maddie was born on February 5. She had breathing problems and had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It was really awful,” she said.
“It was all so much to take in at once, and I wondered how me and my partner were going to cope with a new baby, cancer treatment and our twins Jack and Evie, who were just about to turn four.
“Vivian, a social worker from CLIC Sargent, came to my house to see how I was doing and she was lovely. She said that she’d help us however she could.”
Ms Harris stated that CLIC Sargent secured funding to pay for her two children to go to nursery, which helped offset the additional travel expenses she and her partner, Mark Corbyn, took on from their regular trips to hospital.
She continued: “Vivian was great with my mum and supported her emotionally too.
“She cares full-time for my older sister Elizabeth who has special needs as she was hit by a car when she was three, and her brain was damaged.
“And my mum’s dad died and my grandmother passed just as my baby was born so it was a really tough time for her too.
“Without the support and grants we got from CLIC Sargent we couldn't have managed.”
Ms Harris remained unwell last Christmas, due to the effects of her cancer treatment, which concluded in August 2015, but she has since made a full recovery and has resumed part-time work at The Norfolk Feather Company in Diss.
She added: “This Christmas we’re going to make the most of it as a family and I can’t wait.
“But there are other young people and children out there facing cancer this Christmas and they need CLIC Sargent’s help too.
“Please give whatever you can to help this charity, because believe me, the work they do helping young cancer patients and their families is incredible, and you couldn’t give to a better cause this Christmas.”
CLIC Sargent stated it hoped to receive support from as many people as possible for this year’s Stop Cancer Costing Christmas campaign, to help provide financial grants for children and young people battling with cancer.
Rachel Kirby-Rider, CLIC Sargent’s Director of Income and Engagement, stated: “Christmas is expensive but if you have cancer the additional costs seriously affect your ability to cope.
“We rely on donations to provide vital frontline services to families, alleviating the financial cost and emotional strain of cancer, so that they can focus on spending time together.”
To contribute to the CLIC Sargent appeal, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/donate