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Inspirational teen chosen as voice of charity event

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The Shine Night Walk takes place in London next weekend

Inspirational Lily Douglas has been chosen as the voice of Shine Night Walk to help raise funds for life-saving research.

The 13-year-old from Perth shared her story of courage of living with cancer in a powerful 90 second audio recording which is set to be played to all participants near the start line of Cancer Research UK’S 10K, half marathon and marathon Shine events in London on Saturday September 25. Around £1.7 million is expected to be raised when around 8,000 people take to the capital’s streets in a fun and inspirational parade of light, passing landmarks such as Tower Bridge on the River Thames, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard.

And talented dancer Lily, who was just nine when first diagnosed with cancer, is proud her powerful story will be at the heart of the event.

Lily said: “Sometimes cancer feels terrible because you just want to be with your friends.

“At the same time you meet so many people in hospital and you make loads of friends in the ward. If there was one thing I could say it would be, if you have cancer or if you know anyone else who has cancer make sure you stay positive, keep your head up and always keep on smiling no matter what.”

The audio was recorded in 2019 shortly before Lily started new treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London as part of the UK arm of ESMART, a clinical trial programme funded by Cancer Research UK for children and young people with cancer that is relapsed or not responding to other treatment. Lily was one of 50 people on the trial, who had access to new targeted drugs and treatment combinations not previously available for children and young people.  

It was the latest in a long line of treatments which started when Lily was diagnosed on April 28 2017 with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of tumour found in the bone and soft tissue. She had major surgery to remove her shoulder blade and muscles as well as 14 rounds of chemotherapy. Treatment also included proton beam therapy in Florida.  

But in 2018, tests showed the cancer had returned and in summer 2020 she suffered a stroke which affected her speech and mobility. Now with the help of physiotherapy, Lily is regaining her speech and strength. 

Lily marked becoming a teenager for the first time by taking part in a supercar parade through the streets of her home city of Perth. It was just one highlight of 13 days of treats including everything from a designer handbag shopping trip to a five star dinner to London’s iconic Savoy hotel. Lily’s story of courage has attracted supporters from across the world. She has 100K followers on Instagram including singer Lewis Capaldi. She’s also shared on her Instagram account social media clips including her dancing with Britain’s Got Talent megastars Simon Cowell and David Walliams. And this summer, former Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Arlene Phillips presented Lily with a teenager of courage trophy at the Pride of Scotland awards.

Lily’s mum, Jane Douglas, 51, said: “Lily has spent so much of her childhood living with cancer. 

“She misses her dancing more than anything else in the world but has started musical theatre again. We are on a heartbreaking journey but all the people who support us make things so much easier. Lily amazes us every day and we are blessed by how far she has come in the last year. The muscles in Lily’s hip and leg are starting to work and Lily has taken her first steps without a crutch.”

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK’s work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has been at the heart of the progress that has seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.  

The charity was able to spend nearly £30 million in Scotland last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research. And money raised through Shine Night Walk is crucial to the pioneering work of doctors, nurses and scientists who are fighting cancer on all fronts.

In 2021, London is one of 18 locations across the UK selected to host the Shine Night Walk series, in partnership with online fundraising platform Omaze. Walkers can choose to support different areas of scientific research including prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, children’s cancers and leukaemia. Or they can simply support Cancer Research UK’s overall work as the charity fights back from the impact of the pandemic.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “We’re grateful to Lily and her mum for their support.

“One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. But all of us can support the research that will beat it. This is no ordinary night out. It’s a night to walk together for the millions of people affected by cancer. It’s a night to celebrate, feel proud and light up the city streets. It’s a night to raise crucial funds and bring hope to people affected by the disease.”

“The battle against cancer never stops. Shine Night Walk is a special opportunity for people to come together to remember loved ones lost to cancer or celebrate the lives of those dear to them who have survived.”

If any Shine Night Walk events are cancelled, people will be entitled to a refund of their entry fee. To enter or volunteer at Shine Night Walk visit the website or call 0300 123 0770.