A TEENAGE cancer survivor whose three best friends passed away because of the illness has organised a fundraising ball in honour of her ‘guardian angels’.
Francesca Wheatley, from Whalley, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010 and was supported by children and young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent where she met three of her best friends Hayley, Ryan and Kim.
Ryan and Kim died in 2012 and Hayley passed away in 2013.
Francesca herself underwent chemotherapy for six months, followed by seven weeks of daily radiotherapy and four operations and has now been free of cancer for more than three years.
The 18-year-old is appealing to shops and businesses to donate raffle prizes for the ball to raise funds for CLIC Sargent and is dedicating it to the memory of her three friends.
Francesca, who is studying for a BA in social policy at the University of Birmingham, said: “Cancer can be a very isolating experience as you don’t have the energy to go out and do everything a normal teenager can.
“Your appearance changes as the steroids make you gain weight and chemotherapy makes you lose your hair.
“CLIC Sargent provided me with an opportunity to meet other young people with cancer, to be able to speak about our experiences but, most importantly, to go out and be able to feel normal being a fat, bald kid.
“No child aged 15 and 16 expects to be burying their friends but in 2012 two of my best friends passed away and I didn’t know how to cope.
“The pain felt almost unbearable but thanks to CLIC Sargent I had a strong support network to get me through the rough patch and look into the future.
“I’m now even more determined to raise lots of money for CLIC Sargent, as without this charity I would never have had the pleasure of meeting my three best friends. I am continuing my journey on behalf of my incredible guardian angels.”
Francesca held her first ball in aid of CLIC Sargent in July last year, on what would have been Ryan’s 19th birthday.
It turned out to be one of the last events friend Hayley would attend and she died in October after contracting an infection following a double lung transplant.
Francesca’s masquerade ball will be held at Mytton Fold Hotel in Langho from 7pm on September 12.
There will be a three-course dinner, live entertainment, a raffle, a silent auction, and a DJ and dancing. To donate raffle prizes or silent auction lots, contact Francesca on 07527 269894 or send an email to francesca3004@ hotmail.co.uk.