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Young Highland cancer survivor to brave the shave for three children's cancer charities


By Val Sweeney

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Phoebe Macaskill
Phoebe Macaskill

A Highland teenager who was diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer at the age of two is shaving her hair to raise money for cancer charities.

Phoebe Macaskill (14), of Abriachan near Loch Ness, was given just a 20 per cent chance of survival after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

But following gruelling treatment, she has remained in remission since 2009 and is now shaving her hair to raise money for Neuroblastoma UK and Clic Sargent which helped the family during the years she was ill.

Phoebe, who is a pupil at Charleston Academy, is also donating her hair to the Little Princess Trust which provides free real hair wigs to children and young people who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions.

She was diagnosed with stage four of the cancer in 2008 after she complained of a sore tummy and stopped eating.

The doctors found it had spread to her lymph nodes, bone marrow and was in 95 per cent of her bones and thought there was little chance of a cure. She needed eight rounds of chemotherapy, nine-hour surgery to remove the tumours plus a stem cell transplant, high dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Phoebe at the start of treatment.
Phoebe at the start of treatment.

During treatment, her immune system was severely compromised and complications from the chemotherapy left her in a critical life-threatening condition.

She became septic and ended up in intensive care on life support for 15 days but thankfully responded well to the rest of her treatment and in May 2009, the doctors confirmed she was in remission.

Phoebe is doing her fundraiser in tribute to her late Uncle Darren who shaved his own hair to raise money while she was in hospital.

"My mum and dad tell me that I had one year of gruelling treatment," she said.

"I don’t remember a thing.

"My Uncle Darren, who sadly passed away from diabetes was planning on fundraising by doing a skydive.

"Before he passed away he also shaved his hair to raise money when I was in hospital.

"He inspired me to give back to those who are in need. I am planning, like my Uncle Darren, to shave all my hair off."

She hopes to raise £5000.

"This means a lot to me as it is a big opportunity to help all the children and their families who are in the same position as my family and I were in," she said.

"I hope this has a good impact on these children’s lives."

Phoebe during treatment.
Phoebe during treatment.

Her mother, Rona, spoke of her pride in Phoebe for wanting to help two charities close to their hearts.

"It was a truly horrible time when Phoebe was ill and one I would never want to repeat," she said.

"Although awful, there were many amazing things that have come out of our experience.

"We have met many amazing people on our journey and the support and care we received was incredible.

"We’d never heard of neuroblastoma before Phoebe was diagnosed, so raising money and awareness in this way can help other families like ours in the future."

Katherine Mobey, fundraising manager at Neuroblastoma UK said: "Around 100 children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma every year in the UK, with most under the age of five.

"Thanks to kind people like Phoebe raising much-needed money for Neuroblastoma UK, we can help scientists search for new, kinder and more effective treatments for children with neuroblastoma.

"As a charity, we receive no government funding so we are truly grateful to Phoebe and her family for their support."

Donna Bednarek, fundraising engagement manager for Clic Sargent said: "It’s great to see Phoebe take on her head shave like this and support causes which clearly means so much to her.

"Last year, Clic Sargent supported over 600 children and young people facing cancer across Scotland, and we wouldn’t be able to do this without the amazing efforts of people and groups like Phoebe.

"We are truly grateful for her support and can’t wait to see her new look."

Anyone wanting to donate to her fundraising challenge can do so at https://www.justgiving.com/team/Beboldbebald

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