Twenty years on: the child cancer survivor who went on to become a fund-raising champion

Kelly Roddy who is marking 20 years of being given the all claer from childhood cancer by fundraising and writing a book of her experience.
Kelly Roddy who is marking 20 years of being given the all claer from childhood cancer by fundraising and writing a book of her experience.
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WHEN Kelly Roddy was given the all-clear from cancer at the age of nine, she went into fund-raising overdrive.

And now, almost 20 years on, the Wearsider is again hoping to help others.

Kelly Bestford hands over a cheque for �5,000 to Dr Jenny Kernahan, from the Royal Victory Infirmary on Tuesday November 22, 1994.

Kelly Bestford hands over a cheque for �5,000 to Dr Jenny Kernahan, from the Royal Victory Infirmary on Tuesday November 22, 1994.

Kelly, who lives in Washington, will be celebrating two decades of being cancer-free in April next year and by then she hopes to have raised at least £1,992 – a nod to the year she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research.

The mum-of-two says she owes a debt of gratitude to research and she, along with her family and friends, wants to help the good work continue.

At first doctors thought a seven-year-old Kelly was suffering from anaemia, but within hours of realising it was more serious, she was in the RVI at Newcastle.

She said: “I remember walking onto the ward and seeing all these very poorly children and thinking ‘why am I here? I’m not that sick’.”

But gruelling treatment was to follow, which involved the youngster losing her hair twice.

Thankfully, Kelly made a full recovery and in the months after being given the all-clear, raised £5,000 for cancer charities. The current fundraising started earlier this month when Kelly’s husband Paul, 32, a teacher at The Venerable Bede CE Academy in Sunderland, spent a week being sponsored to run to and from work each day, despite recently recovering from a broken 
sternum.

Ideas have snowballed and Kelly, who is mum to Orlaith, two, and one-year-old Emelie, is in the process of organising sponsored walks, or toddles for the very little ones, jumble sales, raffles, runs, and has even organised a date to shave her head to inspire more donations.

A trained English teacher, Kelly, formerly from Grindon, is also in the process of writing a book detailing her emotional experiences of being a child with leukaemia, as well as that of her parents, Alan and Carol Bestford, with help from the diaries her mum kept of the two-year battle.

Kelly, who will give proceeds from the book to the NECCR, said: “The pair of them were so incredibly strong for me and now I have children myself, I don’t know how they did it.

“I decided to write my story for a number of reasons. Firstly, my love of writing and of reading, secondly, to raise awareness of childhood cancers and what it really means to get that life-changing diagnosis.”

To find out more, or to get involved with any of Kelly’s fundraising activities, visit her blog mamaroddy84.wordpress.com.

For more information on NECCR or to donate directly, visit www.neccr.org.uk.