The parents of a 6-year-old girl battling stage 4 cancer are asking people across MK to help lift her spirits by lighting up their windows this Christmas.
Poppy Bailey from Lavendon, MK, was diagnosed with high risk Neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, during tests after mum Claire noticed she looked pale and had lost her appetite last year.
“A chest X-ray showed a huge tumour wrapped around Poppy’s heart and pushing against one of her lungs. We were told straight away it was cancer”, says Claire. “Our world came crashing down around us in seconds. We refused to believe it at first, insisting that our little girl who's always been the picture of health couldn't possibly have cancer,” said Claire.
Poppy’s cancer has less than a 40-50% chance of long-term survival and had already spread widely, including to her bones and bone marrow. It is the same type that claimed the life of little Henry Allen, also from MK..
Treatment began immediately, starting with chemotherapy, but despite 13 rounds so far, Poppy’s cancer has refused to budge. She will now spend Christmas in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, London undergoing complex surgery to remove the main tumour, and will then embark on high dose chemotherapy. Her parents have been warned this is likely to have terrible side effects.
“On top of everything else, it’s really tough knowing Poppy won’t get to enjoy the Christmas she so desperately deserves,” says Claire. “Her favourite thing is seeing the advent windows our village does every year. Some of the houses do little displays in their windows, and one is unveiled each night in December. It’s magical and full of Christmas spirit, which we need now more than ever.”
Poppy’s village contacted Claire to tell her they had decided to make this year’s advent window event in aid of Poppy, with each house taking part making a small donation to the Princess Poppy Rainbow Appeal. “We started fundraising 6 months ago after we were told Poppy will need to undergo cutting-edge treatment in the US to stop the cancer coming back,” explains Claire. “It’s hugely expensive though - £250,000. So when our village reached out to us to say they could help, we were so moved.”
The nearby villages of Sherington, Turvey, Tyringham, Olney and North Crawley have quickly followed suit, with all now planning a Christmas lights switch or advent window event to fundraise for Poppy. “Amidst everything we’ve been through, the kindness of strangers is one of the things that lifts us when we are at our lowest,” says Claire. “Everyone has promised to send us photos of their windows or Christmas lights, which we will show to Poppy in hospital when she is having treatment. Someone has even promised to do a princess Christmas window in their house, which she will absolutely love as she is Disney-obsessed.”
Claire now hopes more neighbours and businesses across MK might come together to help light up Poppy’s Christmas. “Despite everything she’s been through, Poppy is still the cheekiest, happiest, most caring soul, and makes everyone laugh wherever she goes. We will do anything we can to give Poppy the best Christmas possible, and are so grateful for every single penny and kind word we have had so far.” says Claire.
Anyone who would like to take part in ‘Light Up Christmas for Poppy’ is asked to contact @princesspoppyrainbowappeal on social media, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.