It's childhood cancer awareness month
Rebecca Hopkins who was supported through cancer by the stars of Netflix hit show Cobra Kai has been chosen to launch a campaign in Scotland to help save lives.
To mark Childhood Cancer Awareness month this September, nine-year-old Rebecca is backing TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, in support of Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.
Her family are encouraging the public to donate any pre-loved quality fashion and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store. When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could raise up to £25 to help fund research in to children’s and young people’s cancers.
Rebecca of Girvan, Ayrshire found her world was turned upside after being diagnosed with leukaemia on October 10 2020. It meant losing her long hair to the side effects from treatment after starting chemotherapy at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
But the thing which kept her going through long weeks away from school pals was Cobra Kai- a sequel to the original Karate Kids movies. That’s why Rebecca- known as Bex- was all smiles when a video chat was fixed up with 21-year-old Xolo Mariduena, who plays Miguel Diaz in the hit series.
The call from California to Scotland was organised by staff at the Les Hoey Dreammaker Foundation, a charity which helps children going through treatment for serious illness to meet their idols. And the stars of Cobra Kai have kept in touch with Rebecca ever since, cheering her up with messages and gifts.
Rebecca is one of around 140 youngsters who are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland every year.* Her mum Claire McKendry understands all too well the importance of new discoveries and breakthroughs.
Mum Claire, 29, said: “Hearing the words, ‘your child has cancer’ is the worst moment ever.
“I remember I was in shock and struggled to speak. But Bex was brave right from the start. She is an absolute delight of a little girl who is loved by everyone. We’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals so I’m not surprised that she says she’d like to be a nurse when she grows up. She really wants to help other children I think she would be an excellent nurse as she’s so clever and kind.
"We’re counting the weeks now until she can ring the bell next February to mark the end of treatment. We’ve got through it thanks to an amazing medical team as well as wonderful smiles and laughter from the talented Cobra Kai stars who have become our friends.”
Girvan primary pupil Rebecca is now in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the white blood cells which help the body to fight infection. In recognition of the courage she’s shown, she’s received a Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People star award. Her sister Emily Brown, six, also received a certificate. The sisters were nominated for the award by their gran. And Rebecca has wise words for any youngster who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Rebecca said: “The nurses are really kind.
“They’ll definitely take care of you and you’ll get better really soon. I love Cobra Kai. Xolo who plays Miguel in Cobra Kai sent me a Squish Mallow toy in the post. I really love it.”
Cancer Research UK has funded research in to understanding different types of childhood leukaemia which has improved the way children are treated today. Our scientists showed that a drug called mitoxantrone can increase survival by more than 50% in children whose acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has come back after treatment. The Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow is taking part in groundbreaking clinical trials coordinated by Cancer Research UK’s children’s cancer trials team.
Cancer Research UK celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022. However, its history dates back to the founding of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1902. Thanks in part to the charity’s work, children’s cancer survival in the UK has more than doubled since the 1970s when just over a third of children diagnosed survived beyond ten years. Today, it’s around 8 in 10** but there’s still much further to go.
Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, Lisa Adams, said: “We’re grateful to Rebecca and her mum Claire for their support.
“Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults- from the types of cancer to the impact of treatments and the long-term side effects survivors often experience. So it needs more research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good help to fund.
“We want to help ensure more people under the age of 25 in Scotland survive cancer with a good quality of life. That’s why we hope as many people as possible will donate quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store. Not only could they help to save lives, they’ll also be reducing their environmental impact by giving their pre-loved items another lease of life.”
Supporters can help by wearing a gold ribbon badge – the awareness symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – available from Cancer Research UK shops and selected TK Maxx stores during September.