Doncaster teen's skydive for cancer charities
Caitilin Carroll’s 21st birthday was a milestone she feared she would never get the chance to celebrate after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a teenager.
But Caitilin celebrated in dramatic style with a Summer Solstice Skydive in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and CLIC Sargent, two charities that she credits with saving her life.
Caitilin jumped out of a plane at 15,000 ft at the Brigg airfield, near Scunthorpe on Sunday June 23 with her boyfriend Robbie Foulds, also aged 21.
The pair’s courageous skydive has already raised more than £800 for the charities with more continuing to come in.
Caitilin - from Conisbrough - was diagnosed with stage four ovarian germ cell cancer at just 17 when the doctors discovered a 23 centimetre tumour on her ovary.
Even though she had four out of the five top symptoms of ovarian cancer, she had to keep going back to her doctor for a year and a half before she was eventually diagnosed.
After the devastating diagnosis Caitilin started her treatment at Rotherham hospital, where she was the youngest person on the ward by 20 years.
Caitilin’s experience significantly improved after she was moved onto Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield. As well as being able to meet other young people her age, she had her own comfortable room with a TV, and was supported by a specialist teenage and young adult nurse, funded by Teenage Cancer Trust.
Caitilin said: “You never think at 17 that you are going to have one of your ovaries removed and only be left with one. That was the part I was most nervous about. That is the sort of thing you may associate with older age, so it felt quite hard.
“The whole time, I tried to keep a positive mindset. There were moments when I got upset and angry, but I just had to overcome it.”
So with her 21st birthday approaching Caitilin was keen to use her birthday as a catalyst to give something back to the charities that supported her during her life saving treatment.
Caitilin said: “I really want to give back to the two charities that pretty much saved my life!
“My experience would have been so different without the Teenage Cancer Trust nurses and the special care that they gave me, it helped so much with my wellbeing.
“Because I sometimes use a wheelchair now due to nerve damage, pain and fatigue I can’t do challenges like runs or bike rides – so a skydive seemed perfect.
“I was scared right before jumping but then realised it’s no different than facing an operation during cancer treatment, your life is in someone else’s hands. If I can do that, I can do anything.
“The dive was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life.
“I’m putting all my birthday money towards my JustGiving page – I’d rather it go towards my fundraising.”
Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity who provide specialist nursing for young people diagnosed with cancer. They fund 28 specialist units across the UK, like the one Caitilin was treated on in Sheffield.
Dale Tomlinson, Teenage Cancer Trust Regional Fundraising Manager, Yorkshire, said: “We’re so grateful to Caitilin for taking on this incredibly brave challenge!
“Her fundraising will make a real difference to other young people with cancer across the UK. Please get behind Caitilin by donating to her JustGiving page.
“Your support will help us get closer to our goal of reaching every young person diagnosed with cancer.”
CLIC Sargent is the UK's leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families. Its care teams provide specialist support across the UK.
Josanne Richardson, CLIC Sargent Fundraising Engagement Manager for South Yorkshire, added: “Caitilin and Robbie are volunteers for CLIC Sargent in the local area and have done some amazing work for us this year and now they have really gone above and beyond.
“We rely entirely on donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank them for their fantastic efforts.
“Thanks to Caitilin, Robbie and everyone who has donated, we will be able to help even more young people thrive not just survive after their cancer diagnosis.”
Every day seven young people aged 13-24 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.
To donate to Caitilin’s page set up for the birthday skydive visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/21birthday
To find out more about the work of Teenage Cancer Trust do to support young people like Caitilin, visit: www.teenagecancertrust.org
To find out more about CLIC Sargent visit www.clicsargent.org.uk