Fight for Faye fundraiser reaches milestone amount as Sunderland backs talented musician's cancer battle

The Fight for Faye fundraiser has reached a milestone amount as Sunderland gets behind a young musician’s fight for life.

Earlier this month, a major fundraising drive was launched to help save the life of Faye Fantarrow after she was given a devastating terminal diagnosis.

The 20-year-old from East Herrington has already beaten leukaemia twice in her younger years but, in a cruel blow, doctors think the treatment has caused an aggressive glioma brain tumour as a rare side effect of previous treatment.

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There is currently no treatment for Faye’s tumour in the UK – but hope lies in a CAR T cell trial at The City of Hope clinical research centre in California.

Sunderland's Faye Fantarrow

Around £450,000 is needed to complete the treatment, paying for numerous trips to America, and the Fight for Faye fund was launched to get her there.

In just two weeks, the Sunderland music community and beyond has helped the fund reach £118,000 – a quarter of the amount needed and enough to fund the first part of the treatment which will involve Faye travelling to America for initial cell collection.

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As well as a £50,000 donation and huge support from Faye’s mentor Dave Stewart, who helped find the trial for Faye and has long believed in her talent, signing her to his Bay Street Records label, the fund received a £10,000 donation from his Eurythmics partner Annie Lennox.

Faye said the support is keeping her going through it all.

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A We Make Culture fundraiser for Faye will take place in Pop Recs in High Street West

"The support has been so overwhelming,” she said. “The momentum everyone is adopting and keeping going is so heartwarming. I feel like the whole Sunderland community are holding me up at the minute and keeping me looking forward. I’ll never be able to thank everyone enough or show my love to the extent that I want to.”

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Faye has vowed to continue with her music to thank people for giving her a chance of a future, and a future doing what she loves most.

As momentum gathers, a wave of events are being planned including a gig at Pop Recs at 7pm on Saturday, November 26.

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It’s being organised by We Make Culture who’ve long supported Faye’s talent after she attended their Young Musicians Project in her younger years before becoming an independent artist.

The Lake Poets will perform at the fundraiser
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Performing on the night will be rising star Tom Smith from East Rainton, whose band members, Dylan and Frazer, attended the project with Faye, as well as The Lake Poets who is one of the music leaders on the project.

Emerging city musicians Eve Cole and Lottie Willis, who are also part of the music project, which fosters so much Sunderland talent, will also perform.

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Laura Brewis, project director at We Make Culture, said: “There’s still a lot of people in the project who attended with Faye and they felt so strongly about doing something to help after hearing this awful news.

"When Faye first came to us, she had just got over her second battle with leukaemia, but she never led with it, she never made it part of her story.”

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Laura added: "She is an amazing talent and the support she has received in this is amazing. It feels like there’s a lot of momentum and a lot of venues in the city want to be involved.”

The next stage of Faye’s fight will be a scan at the end of November, when doctors will then know more about when she can travel to America for the initial cell collection.

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The CAR T treatment involves using a patient's own T cells (a type of immune system cell), which are changed in the laboratory so they will attack cancer cells and then given back to the patient, which in Faye’s case would be the infusions direct to her brain.

:: Fight for Faye Fundraiser takes place at Pop Recs, High Street West, on November 26, with all proceeds going to the cause. Tickets are £10 or £6 for concessions from EventBrite.

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:: You can also donate direct to Fight for Faye at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/abigail-thompson-2