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  • Retire with style at The Hawthorns
  • Retire with style at The Hawthorns
  • Retire with style at The Hawthorns
  • Retire with style at The Hawthorns

Shirley’s story inspires kids’ party day

THE inspiring story of a Braintree woman’s battle with cancer has prompted a Kids Helping Kids fundraising event on Sunday July 14 to which everyone is invited.

76-year-old Shirley Pettett is a resident at The Hawthorns retirement complex at Meadow Park, Braintree. She has battled cancer since 1979 and twice spent six-month spells being treated for Hodgkin’s disease at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Fulham Road, London in 1979 and 1988. She moved to The Hawthorns in 2010 and four months later her cancer returned, this time diagnosed as non-Hodgkin’s cancer of the lymph gland. This required a further round of treatment involving overnight stays at The Royal Marsden in Sutton.

Shirley is now in remission again but her rollercoaster experience has left her with nothing but admiration for the work carried out at The Royal Marsden – and particularly in the children’s unit. She spoke to staff at The Hawthorns about her experience and admiration for the hospital’s work and the conversations sparked head chef, Charles Baseley, into action.

The result is a Kids Helping Kids children’s fundraising party being held at The Hawthorns on July 14 which will involve children from a number of local schools enjoying a party day with their families and finding out how much their fundraising effort during the preceding weeks have raised.

Charles said: “The more Shirley told me about her experiences of The Royal Marsden and the great work they do, particularly with the children, the more I felt we should do something to support them. All money raised from this initiative will go to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and we hope it will culminate in a great party day in July.

“The schools will be organising all sorts of fundraising events and The Hawthorns will boost the kitty with its own donation. The party day will include a treasure hunt, bouncy castle, face-painting, a BBQ and hog roast, cupcake decorating and lots more fun.”

Shirley added: “I’ve spent at lot of time at The Royal Marsden and it’s a very humbling experience, particularly when you see the little ones coming in with tubes attached to them. You have to be positive with cancer to get through it. To a degree, I feel my life has been a bonus since 1979 and I no longer get wound up about the smaller things in life.”

Shirley’s condition leaves her weakened to other infections. In 2010 she spent five weeks in intensive care with swine flu and only recently had to contend with a bout of pneumonia. However, Shirley said with the grateful support of family, friends and staff and fellow residents at The Hawthorns she was able to get over this latest setback.

“The Hawthorns has been my home for three years and it gives me everything I need: my own apartment, all my meals catered for, no nasty bills and plenty of things to do. We have trips out every day and there’s always something going on here. I’m really looking forward to the party day – it’s for a great cause.”