Young cancer survivor completes 21st birthday skydive to thank charities for their support
A young cancer survivor has raised hundreds of pounds in a charity skydive to mark her 21st birthday and thank charities who supported her.
Caitilin Carroll, took part in a skydive alongside her boyfriend and boyfriend Robbie Foulds, also 21, and raised over £800 for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and Teenage Cancer Trust. They both jumped 15,000 feet through the air.
Caitilin was diagnosed with ovarian germ cell cancer when she was 17-yearrs-old in March 2016, when the doctors discovered a 23cm 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 diagnosed.
After the doctors found the tumour, Caitilin started chemotherapy treatment right away, which was for seven hours a day, five days in a row every three weeks. In July 2016, new scans revealed the tumour had shrunk and doctors decided to operate and remove her entire right ovary.
She 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.”
Caiitlin started her treatment at Rotherham hospital, where she was the youngest person on the ward by 20 years. Her experience significantly improved after she was moved onto Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield.
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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.
She 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.”
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.”
Josanne Richardson, CLIC Sargent Fundraising Engagement Manager for South Yorkshire, said: “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.”
To support Caitilin and Robbie’s fundraising effort, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/21birthday.