By Andy Hirst
A group of 100 determined Huddersfield fundraisers have been handpicked to raise well over £50,000 in just six months to help a six-year-old Holmfirth girl struck down by cancer.
Eden Smith is undergoing intensive treatment for a rare form of cancer and once she is in remission she needs to go for specialist treatment in the USA which has a far greater chance of stopping the cancer returning than treatment available here.
The American treatment will cost around £250,000 and with £38,000 already raised the race is on to get as near the target as possible by early summer.
The 100-strong group of fundraisers are all members of Colne Valley gym Northern Fitness and have been handpicked by gym owner Kev Bower.
The Linthwaite gym has a great record of doing community-minded work and charity fundraising and the ideas are already coming in thick and fast with members pledging to do the Yorkshire 3 Peaks three times in three days, a 500-mile bike ride, ultra-tough physical endurance tests, skydives and a sportsman’s dinner.
Kev is also chairman of community interest company #FORRONAN set up in memory of young Huddersfield Giants Academy rugby league player Ronan Costello who was fatally injured while playing the sport in June 2016 and died at the age of just 17. They raise money for local good causes and all the fundraising for the next six months will be going to help Eden.
Kev said: “I went through my contacts and friends before choosing the 100 – people who always volunteer first, people I know will be determined to do it and those who are well connected so will encourage others to help out.”
Eden’s parents are Lee Smith and Jen Ramsden and Eden has an older sister, nine-year-old Tia.
Lee said: “The day we got the news about Eden’s cancer our world fell apart. Our usually happy, smiley and polite little girl was being eaten from the inside by this aggressive form of cancer.
“All through the 14 rounds of chemo and endless tests and scans Eden has kept her smile and sense of fun despite the drugs making her extremely sick. Her strength and bravery are truly incredible and she gives strength to everyone around her.”
In April 2021 Eden was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40% to 50% chance of long-term survival at diagnosis and affects fewer than 100 children in the UK every year. Scans and tests showed the cancer was located in seven places around Eden’s body.
Eden started treatment within hours of being diagnosed. She began with 80 days of Rapid Cojec chemotherapy during which she needed several blood transfusions, bone marrow aspirates and stem-cell harvesting. She then endured six rounds of BIT chemotherapy which made her very sick.
Just before Christmas she underwent surgery at Leeds General Infirmary to remove a cancerous tumour from her stomach.
Lee said: “The surgeons feel they have got most, if not all, of the tumour out but we won’t know for sure until Eden has had more scans.”
Eden was out of hospital for Christmas but was back into Leeds General Infirmary straight afterwards to have stem cell treatment before she starts with high dose chemotherapy on Tuesday (Jan 4) which could last for a month to six weeks.
This chemotherapy will kill off anything left of the tumour and be followed by radiotherapy and finally immunotherapy to complete all her frontline treatment.
Only then will Eden be able to travel to the USA – and the earliest she’d probably be able to go would be summer 2022.
Lee said: “Around 60% of children who have neuroblastoma suffer a relapse and then the chances of survival drop down to only around 15%. But the vaccine that has been developed in the USA sees those survival chances go up to 91% and even if they do have a relapse they will only drop to around 86%.
“A new trial has just started there which will mean Eden having to make seven trips to the USA over the five years. The hospital is the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and has a sister hospital in Barcelona and we are hoping the trial will be rolled out in Spain too which would make it cheaper for us.”
How to help Eden
Support any of the Northern Fitness team doing the fundraising by sponsoring them, organise your own fundraising or simply donate by text by tapping in EDENS followed by any whole amount up to £20 to 70085. It won’t matter if you leave a space before the number, if you include the pound sign or whether you use upper or lower case.
You can follow Eden’s story on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/439151710900067
Eden’s Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/edens_army_/
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting.