Siblings launch campaign to raise vital funds for cancer research in tribute to their ‘bubbly’ baby sister
A trainee nurse and her siblings have launched a campaign to raise vital funds for research during childhood cancer awareness month as a tribute to their ‘bubbly’ baby sister who never got to see her second birthday.
Olivia Bate’s little sister Beau Brown battled neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer, for three months before she died in July, aged just 21 months.
During Beau’s treatment, Olivia kept an online video diary of her progress to help support her family and raise awareness of children’s cancers.
Now more determined than ever to support life-saving research, Olivia, her parents and her six siblings are calling on people to get behind TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, in aid of Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.
The campaign asks people to donate pre-loved quality fashion and homeware to their nearest TK Maxx store.
Since 2004, the retailer has raised over £44 million to help improve cancer survival and reduce long-term side effects for youngsters.
When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could be worth up to £25 to help support research into children’s and young people’s cancers.
Olivia, aged 21, of Walsall, put her dreams of becoming a children’s nurse on hold in May to help look after her family when Beau was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, aged 17 months.
“Since losing Beau, I’m more determined than ever to help other families in the same situation,” said Olivia, who has just qualified as a nursing associate with Birmingham Community NHS Trust.
“Having the knowledge from my job made it easier for me to talk to my siblings, not only about what was happening to our baby sister, but also to help them express their own feelings. Now I want to become children’s nurse and do everything I can to help other families going through the same thing.”
Beau’s devastating diagnosis came after her parents Rebecca and Steve, from Great Barr, noticed she had stopped walking.
Scans showed she had a growth on her spine and lung, so she was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where further tests confirmed the family’s worst fears.
“The cancer was in her spine, lymph nodes and chest so surgery wasn’t an option,” said Olivia.
“It was such a difficult time, but she was so brave. In fact, one of her nurses came up with a phrase for her which we all adopted – he’d say: ‘Beau Beau Brown, the best girl in town!’”
Beau’s second course of chemotherapy had to be put on hold after she contracted sepsis but, after 48 hours in intensive care, her treatment commenced again.
“We were all hopeful that this was the turnaround to recovery,” said Olivia.
“But sadly, when she started chemotherapy again, the same thing happened and, after a few days at home, she was readmitted into intensive care with an infection.”
Beau died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital with her mum and dad by her side on July 24.
“It’s been tough but it’s an honour to launch Cancer Research UK's campaign in tribute to Beau,” said Olivia.
“She was my little hero. She was so bubbly, she always made everyone smile so it seems so fitting that this campaign will help support other children whose lives are being touched by cancer."
In the West Midlands, around 350 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year.
Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the West Midlands, Paula Young, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Olivia and her family for their support, especially at such a difficult time.
“Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects often experienced. So, it needs different, dedicated research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good help to fund.
“Cancer Research UK’s work has helped to transform children's cancer survival in the UK. This has more than doubled since the 1970s when almost four in 10 children diagnosed survived for at least 10 years. Today, it's around eight in 10 – but stories like Beau’s are a stark reminder that there’s still much further to go.”
Birmingham is home to Cancer Research UK’s children’s cancer trials team, the only one of its kind in the UK.
The team coordinates groundbreaking clinical trials in many centres across the UK, including Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
These trials make innovative new treatments available to children with cancer, giving them the chance to benefit from the latest discoveries.
Paula added: “Thanks to our supporters, we’re discovering new ways to treat cancers, so children and young people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of the disease.
“By donating any quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store, people can help ensure more people under the age of 25 survive cancer with a good quality of life.”
TK Maxx is the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s research into children’s and young people’s cancers.
Give Up Clothes for Good is one of the UK’s longest running clothes collections and people can donate at any TK Maxx store, all year round.
Supporters can also help by wearing a gold ribbon badge – the awareness symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – available from Cancer Research UK shops during September.
Find out more at cruk.org/childrenandyoungpeople