In September 2020, at the age of nine, Sophie was diagnosed with anaplastic rhabdomyosarcoma, an extremely rare form of cancer that needs aggressive chemotherapy to fight. She immediately had to endure a seven-hour operation to remove her tumour, and nine grueling rounds of chemotherapy.
In late December, Sophie and her mum, Charlotte, moved to London for seven weeks so that Sophie could have radiotherapy treatment at University College London Hospital (UCLH). It was here that Sophie met Spread a Smile.
Her first introduction to the charity was just before Christmas, when she joined our virtual Santa’s Grotto.Charlotte said, “Spread a Smile really lives up to its name – it’s exactly what you do. On days when Sophie couldn’t lift her head up and really couldn’t face doing anything if she knew she had a visit she’d make sure she was ready for the session. It was the only thing she wanted to do. She loves art and the art sessions were such a boost for her. They were really the only thing that would put a smile on her face, and she’d be happy for the rest of the day.”
Spread a Smile’s presence in Sophie’s life during an unimaginably difficult time was vital in supporting her through long and repeated hospital stays, giving her something to look forward to. At a time when Sophie felt isolated, anxious and as if time moved slowly, Spread a Smile’s visits provided rare moments of joy and laughter amidst the mundanity of being in hospital. Sophie enjoyed weekly art sessions with her sisters, which allowed her to enjoy an activity with her siblings, who she may have spent long periods of time apart from during hospital stays. It also made the siblings feel included, as they often spend considerable periods of time away from each other.
“The whole family’s outlook changed since Sophie’s diagnosis. Sophie’s prognosis has a 30% chance of survival over five years. We are now living by the mantra of ‘live for now’ – never put off the things you want to do. The impact on the family has been huge, but Spread a Smile’s presence in our lives has provided us with much-needed moments of happiness, relief and escapism.”
Sophie passed away in September 2021.
Please help ensure we can continue to support children like Sophie and their families by donating today. Thank you.