AFTER three-year-old Lily Vine was diagnosed with cancer during lockdown, family friend Philip Barnett decided he had to do something to help.

So, he decided to run a half-marathon - despite not being a keen runner - to raise money for the charity that helped Lily most.

Sarah Vine and her husband Will, from Wellington, discovered their daughter had Ewing’s Sarcoma, after two visits to A&E as Lily was complaining of a stomach ache.

Mrs Vine said: “Lily was a typical child, enjoying playing with her big sister and loving preschool.

“Then during lockdown (in June) she started screaming at night-time and saying she had belly ache.

“After two doctors’ appointments, a visit to outpatient’s paediatrics, two visits to A&E and when she had lost the ability to stand, it was found that she had a 5cm tumour in her chest and that it was putting pressure on her spine.”

Now Lily is nearly at the end of her initial 18 weeks of chemotherapy. She will then have surgery in November, another ten weeks of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiotherapy.

Somerset County Gazette: Lily Vine, who is still smiling despite the chemotherapy treatmentLily Vine, who is still smiling despite the chemotherapy treatment

“Through it all though she has been amazing,” added Mrs Vine.

“Obviously at times it’s hard but her spirit comes through and she just accepts that this is her life right now.

“The pandemic has made this situation tough, it is hard anyway but when you can’t have your family around you day to day to help, or have easy access to playrooms one the hospital, it is even harder.

“Our poor girl lives a quite isolated existence as she goes through her treatment.

“The doctors, nurses and play specialists make it as comfortable as they can for her, but the lack of human interaction that this pandemic has caused is just heart-breaking to see.

“Lily doesn’t know there are other children on the wards with Hickman lines like hers, she doesn’t know others have NG tubes. She can’t see other kids with a bald head like her.

“How can we normalise this for her when we’re kept apart due to Covid-19? It’s no one’s fault but it is hard to go through this alone.

“Which makes us even more grateful for CLIC Sargent’s support.”

Somerset County Gazette: Lily can't yet walk unaided because of the cancerLily can't yet walk unaided because of the cancer

CLIC Sargent have helped Lily’s family to sort grants and given them advice on carers allowance and disabled badges.

They have also helped with accommodation when Mr and Mrs Vine must stay in Bristol for days at a time for Lily’s chemotherapy.

Mrs Vine explained she was particularly grateful to the CLIC Sargent nurses – Catherine and Olivia – who are always there to help in any way they can.

Mr Barnett, who has been close friends with Mr Vine for 20 years and was his best man (as Mr Vine was his), decided to raise money for the charity.

Somerset County Gazette: Phillip Barnett, who is running to raise money for CLIC SargentPhillip Barnett, who is running to raise money for CLIC Sargent

“As a parent myself I was really worried when Will called in June to tell me little Lily was unexpectedly being admitted to hospital following a stomach complaint,” he said.

“The news that Lily had developed a mass in her chest hit me really hard. The first thing I wanted to do was jump in a car and be there for Will and his family but with the current health crisis, they have effectively had to self-isolate and were therefore unable to see anyone.

“CLIC Sargent were able to be there for Will, Sarah and Lily when I couldn’t, providing that vital emotional support through specialist social workers, supported accommodation, food and basics, meaning they could focus on caring for Lily.

“Because I cannot be there, it only feels right to support those that are, not only for Will and his family, but for the hundreds of families also facing this awful situation.”

Mr Barnett is planning to run his half marathon this Saturday (October 17) from Bath to Bristol. He has already raised £1,716 for CLIC Sargent, nearly doubling his intended £1,000 target.

“I only started running last year (in a desperate bid to shed a few additional pounds) and my first attempts were a shade embarrassing, only making it a few hundred meters in between lock gates on the canal in Bath,” added Mr Barnett.

“Since then I’ve been trying to improve my overall fitness (having previously gone by various well intended nick names such as ‘pasty boy’).

“I’ll be honest, I’m still a work-in-progress and the thought of turning out on a cold night for a 5k doesn’t exactly thrill me – but if it did, it would hardly be a fitting way to raise money.

“My local running club (Chippenham Harriers) have been great in helping me to prepare – now I just have to prey the weather holds on the weekend.”

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