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THE gifts were under the tree and two-year-old Samuel Oswin was counting down the days until Christmas when his family got the news he had leukaemia.
That festive season two years ago Samuel underwent the highest dose of chemotherapy that his little body could take.
Two years ago Samuel Oswin was counting down the days until Christmas when his family got the news he had leukaemiaCredit: Oliver Dixon
We are launching The Sun on Sunday’s Xmas Cards For Kids campaign to help raise money for families like Samuel’s
Then he spent the next ten weeks in hospital with parents Amy and Matt, both 38, at his bedside.
This year there will be thousands of children like Samuel, at what is meant to be the happiest of times, fighting for their lives away from home — while their terrified parents are unable to work to pay for presents.
That is why today we are launching The Sun on Sunday’s Xmas Cards For Kids campaign to raise money to buy gifts for those boys and girls.
We want YOUR children to draw a festive picture then our judges will pick three lucky winning artists who will have their designs turned into limited-edition Christmas cards.
Then we want YOU, our army of kind-hearted readers, to buy those cards from the website of our charity campaign partner Young Lives vs Cancer.
Your donations will go toward buying gifts this Christmas and toys for the charity’s specialist Homes from Home units, where children and families can stay during gruelling treatment.
Here’s how your kiddies can help
WE are inviting children across the nation to help young cancer patients by entering our contest to design a Christmas card.
It can be a fun picture or a sentimental one, in black and white or in colour. It can be fancy or plain.
There are three age groups – five and under, six to ten and 11 to 16. Our panel of judges will pick a winning card from each category.
The three winning designs – on A-size paper (A4, A5, A6) so they can be scaled to A6 ready to print the cards – will be made by printed.com in packs of 12 – four of each design – and sold to raise money for toys.
Printed founder Nick Green says: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with The Sun on Sunday and Young Lives vs Cancer.
“Christmas is a time for coming together and we hope we can help support those most in need.
“For the perfect card we recommend that any text isn’t too close to the edge of the design, avoid highlighter pens, luminous colours and metallic gel pens and don’t use glitter.”
Send your entries to [email protected]
- JUST email the address above with a photo of your child’s well-lit drawing and with you or your child’s name, age address and a few words about why they entered. Keep the original design in case it is one of the three winners that will need to be scanned for printing. T&Cs apply
The card designs must be on A-size paper (A4, A5, A6) so they can be scaled to A6 ready to print on to the cards.
Samuel’s mum Amy said: “There are so many parents struggling, so many children battling. I know what it means for a small child to be away from home at Christmas.
“One small gift, to know someone cares, is so special for a child who is in such strange surroundings and so desperately poorly.
“I urge all your readers to back this. Samuel loves art and drawing, so he’ll be entering.
“The winning cards will be something children can treasure for ever.”
When Samuel was diagnosed in 2019 his parents’ lives fell apart.
Amy, from Swindon, said: “He was getting tired the week before Christmas and had some bruises but he was always racing around so we didn’t worry.
“Then he got purple freckles on his shoulder and I took him to the GP. We were sent straight to hospital. Just ten hours later they told us he had blood cancer — leukaemia.
“You feel like you’ve fallen off the edge of the world. We had been looking forward to Christmas and suddenly we were told he had cancer.”
At Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, Amy and Matt, both project managers, met representatives of a charity they had never heard of before but who became their guardian angels.
As Samuel’s life hung in the balance, a social worker from Young Lives vs Cancer, which helps families find the strength to face all that cancer throws at them, remained by their side as they navigated the terrifying new world they found themselves in.
The charity also provides its Homes From Home, free places for families to stay near hospitals and treatment centres.
These help families to remain together, or close by, in difficult times, and some young people undergoing treatment are also able to stay in them instead of in hospital.
Amy said: “Grace, a social worker for Young Lives vs Cancer, spoke to our employers for us, contacted Samuel’s nursery and helped us fill out the endless forms that come with a diagnosis like that.
“She attended every consultant appointment and became an extra member of the family at a time when we felt like everything was falling apart.
“We were also able to move into a Homes From Home across the road from the hospital.
“Young Lives vs Cancer were our Christmas angels at a time when we desperately needed a miracle. There were so many families in the same position as ours spending Christmas at the hospital and I know some parents hadn’t gone out to buy presents, hadn’t got the money to buy presents.
‘PLANNING SPECIAL DAY’
“There have been some very tough times for us, and being told Samuel will need continued chemotherapy until March 2023 has been one of the worst of them.
“On New Year’s Eve I was soothing him to sleep in the hospital bed and running my hand through his blond hair when clumps of it came out in my hand.
“I collected all his hair from the floor once he had fallen fast asleep. That moment won’t ever leave me.”
Samuel is now more than half way through the treatment that will hopefully save his young life.
But Amy said: “It will undoubtedly change his future. When his treatment finishes, his journey won’t be over. Giving little ones adult-strength chemotherapy can lead to complications later in life.
“He might be infertile, he is likely to develop cancer again and, of course. a relapse can happen at any time.
“Last Christmas he was battling Covid, so this year we are planning a special day. He’s turning into a big football fan and so we are going to get him tickets to watch our local team, Swindon Town.
“And we will decorate the house with cards and definitely buy the winning cards when they go on sale.
“We want to be able to give something back.”
Here’s how to donate
TO give to Young Lives vs Cancer’s Homes from Home go to younglivesvscancer.org.uk/cardsforkids.
GIVE 5 to 70025 to give £5
GIVE 10 to 70025 to give £10
GIVE 20 to 70025 to give £20
Or call 0300 330 0803 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
You can also send a cheque payable to “Young Lives vs Cancer” with your name and address to: The Sun on Sunday Christmas Cards for Kids, Young Lives vs Cancer campaign, 126 Fairlie Road, Slough SL1 4PY. Be sure to put a stamp on the envelope.
As a supporter of Young Lives vs Cancer, you will get updates and news of appeals by phone and post. You can change how you hear from the charity by emailing supporter. [email protected] or calling 0300 330 0803.
Texts cost a donation amount plus one standard network rate message. Young Lives vs Cancer will receive 100 per cent of your donation.
To opt out of calls, text NOCALL CLIC to 78866. To opt out of SMS, text NOSMS CLIC to 78866. Texts will be charged at your network’s standard message charge.
If you have any questions, call Young Lives vs Cancer on 0300 330 0803. Registered charity number 1107328 and registered in Scotland SC039857.
Gaby in to help
YOUNG Lives vs Cancer ambassador and Xmas Cards For Kids judge Gaby Roslin is backing our campaign.
The TV and radio presenter, a mum of two, said: “I urge all Sun readers to get their little ones to draw a festive picture and enter.
“It doesn’t matter if they think they’re good at art or not. I can’t wait to order cards.”
Gaby’s mum Jackie died of lung cancer and her dad, BBC Radio newsreader Clive, now 87, survived bowel cancer in the Nineties.
She said: “A cancer diagnosis is always devastating.
“But for young people it can be about keeping life as normal as possible during treatment and Young Lives vs Cancer do that in so many ways. Young people can be resilient but this charity is there for them, their parents and all affected by a diagnosis.
“I’ve visited the Homes from Home and met the amazing young people who have stayed there over Christmas.
“Receiving a gift from a stranger who cares will be so wonderful for them.”
At just two-years-old Samuel underwent the highest dose of chemotherapy that his little body could take
Samuel spent the next ten weeks in hospital with parents Amy and Matt at his bedside
Young Lives vs Cancer ambassador and Xmas Cards For Kids judge Gaby Roslin is backing our campaign