Family of nine-year-old cancer survivor rallies for Sheffield Children's Hospital

Kelly Touhey owes everything she has to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Thursday, 15th August 2019, 1:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 1:44 pm
Izzy Touhey is determined to give back to the hospital that helped her

Her daughter, Izzy, was just two-years-old when she began to feel poorly. The little girl stopped eating properly and had a temperature and, after visiting their GP, Izzy was referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital to have her blood sugar tested for diabetes.

After the results came back normal, she was taken for an x-ray to rule out a chest infection. The x-ray highlighted something out of the ordinary and Izzy was sent to Sheffield Children’s where she was given the diagnosis of a tumour at the top of her chest.

The following day, Izzy had a CT scan and in the next few weeks the family visited the hospital for further tests. Scans revealed that Izzy’s tumour was very close to her spine and had grown between her vertebrae.

Izzy Touhey

The next month the two-year-old underwent major surgery, which lasted four hours, removing as much of the tumour as possible without damaging the spinal cord. The surgery was successful and the team at Sheffield Children’s Hospital had been able to remove over two thirds of the tumour. Izzy then spent five days in the hospital’s High Dependency Unit.

A week after Izzy’s surgery, tests on the removed tumour revealed a diagnosis of neuroblastoma, a very rare form of childhood cancer. Less than 100 children are diagnosed with the condition in the UK every year and luckily Izzy’s was detected at an early stage.

Just two months after visiting the GP, Izzy’s chemotherapy began in August 2012.

Kelly said: “Our world changed so quickly when Izzy became ill but she never complained once, she never ever asked ‘why me?’

“She is such a character, she would be dancing on her bed while having chemotherapy infused and enjoyed riding up and down the ward with her drip stand.

“She loved spending time in the playroom too, making things and distracting herself with play dough.”

Izzy started six courses and five different types of treatment, with each lasting between three and five days on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

In 2013, Izzy entered remission and now, at nine years old, she only has to return to Sheffield Children’s once a year for check-ups.

And now the Sheffield schoolgirl, who lives with her family in Chapeltown, is determined, along with the rest of her family, to give something back to the incredible team at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. She has created a 20-strong team of dedicated family and friends that are busy fundraising for The Children’s Hospital Charity.

The funds raised by Izzy will support the cancer and leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where she stayed six years ago. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Izzy now only visits the hospital once a year for a check-up, but for families that have to stay long-term, as Izzy and her family once did, many parents currently sleep on a camp bed or expanded chair on the ward.

Kelly says: “When you are staying on the ward, you are just behind a curtain at night, sleeping on a fold down chair and you can hear everything going on with the other patients.”

The Children’s Hospital Charity are currently fundraising to transform the ward which treated Izzy, by creating a new ward with more space, privacy and natural light.

It will create private patient rooms with en-suite facilities, giving patients a place to make their own and space for a parent to sleep comfortably alongside them.

Kelly adds: “While we were on the ward, everyone made the best of the facilities available, but if the space was transformed it could be much more comfortable.

“It would be amazing if the facilities were improved and it would really help the children and their families make their stay easier and more manageable.”

Izzy and her team have now joined the fundraising effort, and even signed up to The Children’s Hospital Charity’s biggest event of the year last month, Theo’s Obstacle 5K, which was held at the new location of Hesley Wood Scout Camp. The event raised money for the Emergency Department appeal at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which was originally built to see a maximum of 32,000 patients a year, but now sees 60,000. The expanded department would create much-needed space, and would see the waiting room expand to four times its current size, with more treatment, consultancy and examination rooms as well as a dedicated space for children to play.

Kelly adds: “Izzy saw Theo’s Obstacle 5K when she was last at the hospital and said she’d love to do it to raise money for the other children there. We mentioned it to some of her friends and family and had a team of over 20 who took part with us on the day, to help us say thank you to this wonderful facility for the world-class care that Izzy received.

“I don’t think words can express how we feel about everyone within Sheffield Children’s Hospital. We would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts, they have made our little girl better and given her the chance to live a happy and healthy life which she is certainly grabbing with both hands.”