Posted on Thursday 30 June 2022

in News

Friends and family of nine-month-old who has been in hospital since birth took on walking challenge throughout June

Friends and family of nine-month-old Will Farr-Smith, from Hertfordshire, have taken on a walking challenge throughout the month of June to raise money for children’s cancer charity, Young Lives vs Cancer. Will was transferred to Great Ormond Street hospital (GOSH) at two days old and diagnosed with Multicentric Infantile Myofibromatosis. Now nine months old, he has lived there ever since. At the start of June Will had been at GOSH for 262 days, with the majority on Giraffe Ward. So the group decided to walk 26.2 miles each during June, as Team Giraffe.

During a 36-week scan, Mum Lu and Dad Dan’s world was turned upside down when they were told the news their unborn son had lesions in both his lungs and bowel and would need specialist care from birth. After being transferred from Tommy’s to GOSH at two days old Will went straight to NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and was later diagnosed with Myofibromatosis at two weeks. He has since lived at the hospital, and stayed on multiple wards, where he has had four surgeries and was on weekly chemotherapy until 6 months old when his Liver became too poorly for any further treatment. His last bowel surgery exceeded expectations and he is now doing much better.

On top of the stress of Will being in hospital, the family’s home is in Hertfordshire, over 30 miles away from the hospital. Throughout the week, Lu stayed with Will and Dan was juggling work, travelling back and forth to the hospital whilst dropping off and picking up Will’s older brother Percy from nursery, with them then swapping each weekend.

Lu, Dan with their sons Percy and Will

After six months of the family being separated, it was decided that they needed to be closer together. In March, the family were granted an extended six month stay at Young Lives vs Cancer’s Home from Home Paul’s House. The home offers families a free place to stay nearby the hospital, which meant that Dan and Percy could move down to London.

Mum Lu said: “The move has been life changing in so many ways. It has been a huge boost to my mental health, as we had been really struggling with not seeing each other or one of the boys. Luckily, Dan is able to work from the hospital and can now spend more time with Will. It gives us more time together as a family and enables one of us to do some exercise or take just time out of the hospital.”

“Percy started at the GOSH Nursery and has been a champ, fitting right in and getting to spend much more time with his little brother and become friends.”

Feeling helpless, Lu’s best friend Jane and other family and friends wanted to do something to show their support for Will and his family while also raising money to help other families in similar situations, which is where the challenge Walk for Will was born.

Calling themselves Team Giraffe, as Will has spent seven of the past nine months on the Giraffe ward at GOSH, the team decided to walk 26.2 miles throughout June and have raised over £5,000 to date for Young Lives vs Cancer.

Giraffe Team Leader, Jane said ‘Team Giraffe was born from our inspiration of how strong Wills family are and we wanted to show them our support. Walk for Will came about as we wanted to ask family and friends whilst they were out walking to think about Will. We wanted them to channel his fighting spirit and recognise what a little warrior he is by putting one foot in front of the other for the month on June. Our aim is to raise money for the incredible charity that is Young Lives Cancer. We have been blown away by how many people have taken part and by how much support we have received. #teamgiraffewalkforwill’

Last year, Young Lives vs Cancer helped 104 families find the strength to face everything cancer throws at them. The charity gave out 78 financial grants to the value of £15,160 helping families to cope with the costs of cancer. The Cancer Costs report from the charity found that families with a child on active treatment spend an extra £600 a month.

Rebecca Clements, Young Lives vs Cancer Fundraising Engagement Manager said: “Seeing the support from Jane and the rest of Team Giraffe is just wonderful. We are so thankful to the team for wanting to give something back to Young Lives vs Cancer and cannot believe the total raised to date.

“The money raised through this challenge will continue to help fund the vital support Young Lives vs Cancer provide to thousands of young people and their families, like Will’s, throughout the UK.

“Thank you, Jane and Team Giraffe, you really are amazing!”

To sponsor Team Giraffe for their walking challenge, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/WalkForWill For more information about Young Lives vs Cancer’s work go to www.younglivesvscancer.org.uk

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