When three-year-old Florence was diagnosed with a rare type of liver cancer, parents Kerry and John Leppard’s world was turned upside down.
But family and friends in Haywards Heath have been at their side every step of the way to help the ‘warrior princess’ – raising money for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent which is supporting the family.
After her diagnosis in May 2014, Florence began treatment at The Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton.
“It was devastating,” said Kerry, who lives in Wood Ride.
“Looking back I don’t know how we managed it. We were heartbroken. The last thing you ever want to hear is that your child is poorly and what they have to go through to get better.”
“We have called her our warrior princess because of what she has been through. She is quite fantastic, I have to say.”
The last thing you ever want to hear is that your child is poorly and what they have to go through to get betterKerry Leppard
Florence has had seven cycles of chemotherapy as well as liver surgery at Kings College Hospital, London and is now in remission.
Kerry and John said they have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the support they have received from their family and friends.
“We have marvellous friends who are supporting us on this journey with outpourings of love, encouragement and hope,” she added.
The family also has had the support of a church and school community which has ‘lifted the family’ with prayers and meals delivered to their door daily.
John’s older children have rallied around the family and Florence’s sisters – six year-old Daisy and one-year-old Elsa are coping ‘admirably’.
Daisy is receiving support at school from local children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House and Elsa attends Robins Nest where the staff have become great friends to the family.
Shelly, who is part of a team of CLIC Sargent social workers, has supported Florence and her family during every stay at the Royal Marsden.
Kerry said: “She offers great support and is a wonderful resource, her and a colleague also host parent chats at the Marsden, which I like to attend. Without Shelly’s help I don’t think we would have managed the disabled living allowance forms.”
Family and friends have been fundraising for CLIC Sargent and more is planned for 2015. Kerry’s mum Maureen and her husband Jerry organised an Irish night in Haywards Heath in November which raised £1,700. Family friend Geoff Major, who has already completed treks to the North Pole and Sahara, is planning a 100 mile row up the River Thames.
A friend of Kerry’s from university days, James Stretton, is organising a gruelling coast to coast cycle ride, while Debbie Sheridan will be walking 34 miles in the London 2 Brighton Challenge.
Dan Powell, fundraiser at CLIC Sargent, said: “It is inspiring to read about the amazing support that friends and family have given Kerry, John, Florence and all of the family.
“I am delighted that CLIC Sargent has been able to help at this difficult time, and that people have chosen to fundraise on our behalf. Thanks from all of us at CLIC Sargent.”