Harrogate mother talks of daughter’s childhood cancer to support charity
Last updated Feb 12, 2021
Sally and Marnie
Sally Downie and her daughter Marnie Downie-Keally from Harrogate

A Harrogate family is supporting a Yorkshire cancer charity in raising awareness for International Childhood Cancer Day by talking openly about the impact on families.

Candlelighters is based in Leeds and helps families across Yorkshire affected by childhood cancer.

The Downie family from Harrogate have praised the charity after it helped them during their daughter’s cancer treatment.

Marnie Downie-Keally, aged six, was diagnosed with Low-grade Pilocytic Astrocytoma (a type of brain tumour) when she was two years old. In late 2018 after an MRI scan, it was decided that Marnie would need to go through chemotherapy for 18 months.

Her mum Sally had to stop working to take care of her daughter. Candlelighters was able to offer some financial support during this time as well as emotional support.

Sally said:

“I had worked full time in the pharmaceutical industry but at that point had to stop work to care for Marnie.”

“There are far too many things to list that Candlelighters have done for us since Marnie’s diagnosis and, unless you are being supported by them, I don’t think you can ever fully appreciate what they do.”

Marnie is now doing well after finishing her treatment in June 2020.


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In Yorkshire alone, 150 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Candlelighters says its aim is to offer support to these children and their families whether that is by offering respite to parents or financial grants.

Candlelighters chief executive, Emily Wragg, said:

“We are proud of the many ways we support families emotionally, practically and financially – which has continued throughout the pandemic. We also bring hope to families by investing in vital research, education and training, helping to improve long-term outcomes for patients.”


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