A young woman diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia is raising funds for a cancer unit which will help other young patients.
Karen Young, 23, is half way through a three-year course of chemotherapy and although it can be gruelling at times, she is staying positive by supporting the £1.4m Our Space Appeal at Leicester Royal Infirmary to provide a special unit for children and young people with cancer.
Karen, who has chemotherapy at the hospital once a week and has just moved into a new flat in Bulwell Green, Corby, said: “In October 2010 I went for a routine blood test and when I received the results my life just stopped.
“I had a job and was working as a volunteer with the ambulance service when I was told I had a rare form of leukaemia. I’d had no symptoms and I hadn’t been ill.
“I’ve had many extended stays at Leicester Royal Infirmary and the staff are really brilliant and dedicated, but because I have blood cancer I’ve ended up in wards with older patients.
“It can be very difficult when you’re in hospital for weeks at a time. It makes an already terrible situation worse.
“My friends have been fantastic but they can’t be expected to understand what it is like to lose your hair. If you are with people who have had the same experience it makes all the difference – we can help each other.
“This centre will make such a difference to the lives of people like me and those in the future.”
With £1m already pledged to the appeal it is hoped work on the new unit can start in the summer.
And Karen hopes to boost the fund with a dance being held at the Grampian Club, Corby, on Friday, February 17.
She started fundraising with her friend, Siobhan Buzzard, also of Corby, who had the same condition, when they were both having treatment at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Sadly Siobhan died last year but her family, including mum Heather, are supporting the appeal to raise funds.
Karen’s mum Sheena Young and friends Stan and Jackie McIntosh have helped organise the dance.
Mrs Young said: “Currently a teenager could be in a bed next to a 70-year-old woman with dementia or a young lad could be treated next to a three-year-old boy, which means he has to be quiet after 6pm. It is not fair on any of them.”
Businesses have pledged support for the fundraising night and have donated prizes inluding a race track experience and a full course of driving lessons.
Music will be provided by local groups Corruption and The Desperadoes, as well as singer Hayley Blanchett, a former student at Lodge Park School, Corby, where Karen and Siobhan were also pupils.
Karen said: “You can’t believe how good it feels to know that so many people want to support what we are doing. It means so much. The last few years have been tough but this does make a difference and gives me something to focus on.”
Tickets for the dance are £5 for adults, £2.50 for children. They are available at the Grampian Club, The Chocolate Shop, in The Jamb, the Greedy Pig cafe and from Corby Radio. For more details call 01536 744811.