Daughter's dying wish fulfilled: Parents of Katie Walker raise £50,000 to help teen cancer sufferers
The parents of a 20-year-old who died of cancer have completed her final wish. Danny Longhorn reports ...
THE dying wish of tragic Katie Walker to help teenage cancer sufferers has been fulfilled.
Micky and Julie Walker made it their aim to make their daughter's last wish become a reality by setting up the Katie Walker Cancer Trust.
Now, they are celebrating after raising more than £50,000 and also being told by health professionals their funding for research work has helped save lives.
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Julie, 45, said: "We've been told the funding we have provided to get top professors in teenage cancer research around the same table is not just changing the outcome for teenagers with cancer, but saving lives.
"This is not just me and Micky who have done this, it is everybody who has put in change to the charity tubs and supported and organised their own fundraising events.
"I cannot put into words how it feels to fulfil my dying daughter's wish."
Katie was born a normal healthy baby on September 29, 1986. However, aged just six months, the family were faced with the news she had a taratoma, a cancerous tumour in her spine.
Despite an eight-hour operation, the cancer returned shortly after her third birthday.
Julie said: "The news at this time was bleak, with certain doctors saying recovery was extremely rare.
"Katie being the fighter she was endured six months of chemotherapy followed by surgery and yet again this brave courageous girl defied all odds to pull through."
She stayed free of cancer for 14 years, successfully achieving nine GCSEs, four A levels, but shortly after turning 19 and having started a teaching degree at the University of Scarborough the cancer returned.
Shortly after their daughter's death in 2007, aged 20, Micky and Julie set up the trust in a bid to set up a research programme.
However, unable to get the sort of funding needed, they had to think of an alternative plan.
Julie, of Bridlington, said: "Katie being the unique girl she was, always thought about others first, with one main goal being to help other teenage cancer sufferers and to ensure she was remembered for years to come for having a positive effect in people's lives.
"We had to find a way of fulfilling Katie's wish.
"With this fund we have been providing funds for international consensus of this disease and teenage germ cell cancers. We aim to provide the information which is required to give teenage cancers a better outcome."
The fourth conference was held recently in Boston, US, where 25 top professors spoke specifically on cancer research for young people aged between 1 and 24.
The professionals have been discussing various treatments and will this year be releasing a paper on treatments and advice, which will be available worldwide in hospitals.
Julie, who in 2010 was awarded Tesco magazine's Achieving Mum Of The Year, said: "The aim is to promote international consensus in the field of teenage cancer.
"This has never been done before.
"Further papers could be developed for Alzheimer's, dementia and heart disease.
"The professors are so desperate to make a difference. At the conferences they can discuss various treatments and look at the impacts and what kind of treatment could suit what kind of patient."
The Katie Walker Cancer Trust also offers grants to help the families of other young people suffering from cancer cope help with immediate financial needs.
Julie said: "Money may seem unimportant when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
"Yet, as well as coping with the emotional stress, many families soon find cancer brings financial strain too.
"Unpaid leave from work, after-school care for siblings and travel are the most common costs.
"We may never meet the people we are helping but we know we are making a massive positive and changing people's lives."
The trust exceeded the £50,000 mark with their annual ball at The Spa Bridlington, which last month raised £4,550.
"We were jumping up and down when we were given the final figure," said Julie.
"Despite the financial situation people are still digging deep. It is amazing."
The ball was originally planned for 100 people as a small event to celebrate Katie's life.
This year, the event attracted 283 people.
There was a sparkling reception, silent auction, charity raffle and entertainment from comedian Craig Harper, Elvis Impersonator Steve Caprice and band Retrofits.
Julie said: "Katie would have loved wearing the ball gowns and getting done up.
"The night opened with Katie's theme Chelsea Dagger.
"Everyone, even my dad who is disabled, was on the dance floor dancing.
"East Yorkshire should be proud of their efforts.
"The area has been put on the map from the work which is being done."