8 April 2015
Amy with her teacher, aunt & Macmillan fundraiser
When seven-year-old Amy Dolan’s class was asked to choose one thing they would like to change about the world, she said she wanted to make cancer go away.
The big-hearted pupil at St Mary’s Primary School in Cumbernauld, decided to write to Macmillan Cancer Support to ask how she could be ‘a nurse or doctor who makes cancer go away’ after her aunt was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Emma Dodds, 31, had lost her hair after undergoing five months of chemotherapy treatment between June and November last year. Amy’s mum and Emma’s older sister, Sarah Dolan, 33, says: ‘I knew she was quite upset about her auntie but she hadn’t spoken to me. It was my younger sister who told me Amy was scared her auntie was going to die.’
‘Emma took the treatment really well. She never looked really ill. It was only when she started losing her hair that Amy started to get nervous around her.’
Sarah and Emma had sat down with Amy and her sisters Laura, 10, and Sophie, five, after the diagnosis to see if they had any questions.
‘Amy was the more emotional one of the three of them,’ says Emma, from Cumbernauld. ‘Amy did have questions. Her main thought was I was going to die.’
Emma, who has a three-year-old daughter called Lily, adds: ‘I was surprised when I heard about the letter. It was lovely. She had spoken about wanting to be a nurse when she was younger but that’s the first time she has spoken outside the family about wanting to help others.’
Amy’s letter was one of several written by children in teacher Yvonne Martin’s class in a bid to make the world a better place. Yvonne says: ‘I try to instil a belief in my children that the world is theirs to change for the better and that no matter how small they are they still have the power to do this. I feel if they take this to heart at a young age then they will grow into adults who truly do make these changes. The children asked me how we could go about changing the world and I decided a good place to start would be to select one thing they would each like to change and to write letters to the correct people about it.’
Yvonne, whose father was diagnosed with prostate cancer nine years ago, adds: ‘Amy personally wished for a world without cancer due to her own family situation and wanted to know how, even at her young age, she could help eliminate it.’
‘Macmillan gave my family a lot of support during my dad’s illness, providing advice about financial support and a support line for reassurance, so I advised her to write to them as a starting point for her goal - It truly is a magnificent job that the people at Macmillan do.’
After sending Amy a thank you card and wrist band, Macmillan Cancer Support arranged to visit St Mary’s Primary School to talk to all the children there about their work. Macmillan Fundraising Manager Emma Connor says: ‘It can be difficult knowing how or what to explain to children when someone close to them has cancer. Our helpline advisors can help with information or how to word things if you need them for any unexpected questions. Also, on our website we have a collection of hints and tips from people who have been affected by cancer on what to do or say to help them through what can be the hardest situation they ever have to face.’
Meanwhile, having finished both a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, Emma has to wait until April to find out how successful it has been.‘I feel a lot better in myself,’ she says. ‘I do still get more tired than I used to but that is to be expected. I’m pretty much back to normal.’