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Lily's celebrity Christmas cook-along

This news post is over 1 year old

A celebrity chef and inspirational teenager have joined forces to raise funds for Cancer Research

Inspirational Lily Douglas - who is on a new clinical trial for cancer - has had her courage celebrated by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.  

Thirteen-year-old Lily took part in a festive themed virtual cook-along hosted by the Michelin-starred chef to launch this year’s Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx.  

She joined a small group of young cooks affected by cancer for whom Christmas came early, as the French restauranteur gave them an online masterclass in making Joyeux Noël Christmas pancakes with spiced cranberry sauce.  

After his youngest son Valentino was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, the dad-of-four knows all too well the devastating impact the disease can have on children like Lily. 

Lily regularly travels from her home in Perth, Scotland to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London for treatment 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 is one of 50 people on the trial, who now have access to new targeted drugs and treatment combinations not previously available for children and young people.  

Lily was just nine when diagnosed in April 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. Taking some tips in the kitchen from a celebrity chef was the perfect way to step in to Christmas and put some of the difficulties of the last few months behind her. 

Lily said: “It was difficult at first when I got ill again but I’ll keep fighting. 

“I really enjoyed meeting Jean-Christophe and I was happy I was able to flip the pancake and catch it.  It made me smile when he said he liked my Scottish accent too. I’m looking forward to Christmas, to sending time feeling cosy in my jammies and watching nice films with my family.” 

Lily who turned 13 on October 18 this year had 13 special surprises to celebrate her birthday. She 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 100,000 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. 

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

“We are on a heartbreaking journey but all the amazing people who support us make things so much easier. We loved cooking with Jean-Christophe. Lily got a perfect flip on her pancake but I dropped mine. Lily is incredible. She faces every day with a smile on her face.” 

The Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, celebrate the courage of children and young people who have been diagnosed with cancer. They are open to all under-18s who have been diagnosed with the disease in the last five years.  

There is no judging panel and everyone nominated receives a trophy, a t-shirt, a certificate signed by celebrities and a £50 TK Maxx voucher.  

Jean-Christophe Novelli is raising awareness of the scheme after his son Valentino, four, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma - a rare cancer of nerve cells that mainly affects children under the age of five. He was just six-weeks-old at the time.  

Jean-Christophe said: “I was in bits when Valentino was diagnosed and had to watch as he endured two years of intense treatment. Knowing what children with cancer have to face, giving a little bit of excitement through what I love and to see Lily and the kids have fun and try something like the cook-along was beautiful.  

“It was my absolute pleasure to meet Lily. She is an incredible, strong girl who has the most amazing eyes. She was so calm and focused during the cook-along, listening and paying attention throughout. It was lovely watching her cook along with her mum. They made a fantastic team. Hearing how much Lily has been through and continue to go through, she is so brave and inspiring. To see that Lily is using her Instagram to tell her story and raise awareness to her thousands of followers is unbelievable. Her family must be so proud. 

“To have something like the Star Awards to recognise the children and their courage when they go through so much – it is fantastic and it all helps with that boost you need as a family. 

“Now I want to help spread the word, so that across Scotland as many children affected by cancer as possible have the opportunity to be nominated.”   

Around 140 children are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland every year. Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer, to the impact of treatment. That’s why Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is supporting dedicated research to improve survival and reduce long-term side effects for youngsters like Lily.  

The Star Awards are run in partnership with TK Maxx, the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s and young people’s cancers. Since 2004, the retailer has raised over £40m for the charity. Over £37m of this total has supported research to help ensure more children and young people survive cancer with a good quality of life.  

To nominate a Star visit 



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