Abingdon resident Billie Fletcher loves to crotchet but more importantly she loves creating items that can raise money for charities particularly those close to her heart.
Her recent fundraising mission has been to create a fabulous Coronation Keepsake Blanket measuring 140cm square. People around the UK have been undertaking a similar task and they all have just six weeks to create these fabulous blankets using a Sirdar Crochet Along the Design pattern by #madebyanita. Sirdar are keeping a watchful eye on the participants to ensure that the blankets are being accurately crotched.
Billie tells us why she has chosen to use the Coronation Keepsake Blanket to raise funds for research into Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia.
“My friend’s daughter Nimmy who is 13 was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) in June 2019 and together with her mother Anu, we would all like to change the future for children suffering with LCH. A special fund has been created and for anyone who would like to contribute but were not successful when the blanket was auctioned online, they can make donations at www.specialnamedfunds.cclg.org.uk/team-nimmy.”
Anu explains more about her daughter’s medical condition. “In late spring 2019 just after my daughter’s ninth birthday, Nimmy started complaining of back pain. A physiotherapist friend encouraged us to see the GP; however, thinking she had only pulled a muscle we weren’t particularly worried and kept to our plans to attend a weekend music festival. However, Nimmy’s back got more painful to the point she could not walk over uneven ground. On our way back from the festival, Nimmy’s dad dropped her and I off at A&E at the John Radcliffe Hospital. Although her X-ray and blood tests were clear, we were kept in overnight for Nimmy to have an MRI scan the following day. The result of the MRI was not good. We were told she had a tumour on one of her vertebrae and she was admitted into hospital to have a biopsy undertaken. Ten days later we met with our consultant who confirmed she had LCH.”
“Initially we were advised that Nimmy had single-site, single-system LCH and the team were hopeful that the biopsy surgery would be sufficient to cure the problem. LCH is unique in that some sites can resolve themselves after surgery. Although this was the case for Nimmy’s spinal tumour, just a few months later she had another lesion and soft-tissue tumour on her skull. We decided with the team to start chemotherapy, which she did just a couple of weeks before the country went into lockdown in 2020. She had her treatment as part of the LCH-IV trial, which is a Europe-wide study looking at how to improve outcomes for children with LCH. Her treatment was randomised to six months, but we made the decision, along with the medical team, to give her another six months of maintenance chemotherapy. She finished treatment in March 2021.”
“Later that summer, we found patches of skin involvement LCH which we’ve been treating with steroids. And then in October the same year, we found another lesion on Nimmy’s skull. Nimmy had neurosurgery in November 2021 to remove the tumour and to get samples to run further genetic tests. We really don’t know what the future will hold for her and what challenges she might face in the future. Whilst Nimmy is well and happy, we’re all alert to any symptoms which might suggest that her LCH has reactivated. Since her diagnosis we’ve been able to see Nimmy’s strength and bravery in the face of everything that she’s been through. She’s funny, clever and very strong-minded. She loves being with her family and has a lovely big group of friends. She loves watching movies, especially scary movies and loves animals, particularly our kittens Yoshi and Mitski.”
“Working with the doctors on Nimmy’s treatment really clarified just how much research needs to be done, to understand more about LCH and how to treat it. It’s just soimportant - all of Nimmy’s treatment has been as part of a trial, but there just isn’t enough research into what stops LCH from repeatedly reactivating. We don’t know what the future holds for Nimmy and any research done will probably not alter her treatment in the future. But knowing more about the disease will help other children like her.”
If you would like to make a bid for the blanket please visit www.facebook.com/ILoveLittleFish.