Wigan family supports World Cancer Day in honour of brave daughter

The family of a brave schoolgirl is urging Wiganers to back a World Cancer Day campaign, after she battled a rare form of the disease.

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 8:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 9:48 am
Victoria Calland

Victoria Calland was just three when her parents were told she had rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer.

Other news: Wigan man's trial begins after woman left for dead in alleyShe underwent treatment, including travelling to Florida for specialist proton beam therapy, and scans show Victoria, now six, is cancer-free.

The Calland family, who live in Wigan, is determined to give something back by supporting CLIC Sargent’s campaign for World Cancer Day, on Monday, February 4.

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Victoria at last year's Race For Life at Haigh Woodland Park

They are urging people to donate £2 for a Band Against Cancer wristband, in a bid to raise awareness and funds for the charity.

Her mother Jennifer said: “We’re really proud to wear our Band Against Cancer wristbands because CLIC Sargent made a huge difference to our family.

“We’d love to see everyone in Wigan get behind this campaign and get their own band – it’s such an easy way to help CLIC Sargent support more families like ours.”

The family was supported by CLIC Sargent social workers based at Leeds General Infirmary and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where Victoria received the majority of her treatment.

They helped them to apply for benefits and arranged for grants to help with the extra costs that were mounting up.

Mrs Calland said: “Having a child in hospital, particularly a hospital so far from where you live, costs a lot of money. Our CLIC Sargent social worker helped us to apply for disability living allowance and arranged for us to receive a CLIC Sargent grant.

“The money all went towards paying for petrol and parking and eating at the hospital. Leeds is an hour-and-a-half drive or more from our home, so the bills added up. My husband had to take time off work and life got put on hold while treatment took place.”

The Callands had their world turned upside-down when Victoria was diagnosed.

Mrs Calland, 44, said: “Victoria got sicker and sicker and her skin and eyes turned yellow. Initially we were told a cyst on her bile duct was the cause, but when they operated they found the cancer. We were in shock and I just couldn’t understand why this had happened to our family – why was Victoria one of the 425 children worldwide to get this rare cancer each year?

“We never expected it to be cancer. I was fascinated at first and wanted to read everything about it, like it was my new science project. I suppose it was a coping mechanism, because I felt like if I knew all about it, perhaps we’d have a better chance of beating it.”

After an operation and intensive chemotherapy, Victoria and her family went to Florida for specialist proton beam therapy.

She finished treatment in December 2016 and scans showed she is cancer-free and doing well. She will continue with scans and check-ups for three years, when she will receive the official “all-clear”.

Victoria started last year’s Cancer Research UK Race For Life at Haigh Woodland Park and even appeared in Channel 4’s The Secret Life Of Four And Five Year Olds, which follows children as they start school.

Wristbands are available in Morrisons stores, JD Wetherspoon pubs, select H Samuel and Ernest Jones stores, and via CLIC Sargent’s website.