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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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We’re all doing it for Cleo!

A COMMUNITY is rallying round to support a brave little girl who is fighting leukaemia for the second time.

Ten-year-old Cleo Rimmer will spend most of the next three years in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) – with her parents Yvonne Rimmer and Carl Armstrong at her bedside – undergoing intensive chemotherapy after her cancer returned.

The Egremont youngster had been in remission for the last four years after she underwent gruelling chemotherapy after her initial diagnosis aged only six. She relapsed on January 30.

Now Cleo’s family, supported by Orgill School and the whole community, has launched a major fundraising campaign to thank the medics who have saved – and are continuing to save – her life.

“We owe Cleo’s life to the wonderful care she has received, both at the West Cumberland Hospital and the RVI,” said Malcolm Christopherson, Cleo’s grandfather. “We want to give something back and the response we have had from people has been amazing.”

Cleo first became ill in July 2008, and after being taken to the West Cumberland Hospital, she was quickly diagnosed with leukaemia and was transported to Newcastle within an hour.

“Within 24 hours, they had diagnosed what sort of cancer it was – it was in her blood – and she underwent chemo for eight or nine weeks before they let her home,” said Malcolm.

“She then had a seizure a few weeks later – as she had developed a blood clot on the brain as a result of the chemo – and she was taken back to Newcastle and had to be resuscitated on the way.

“It was a very rare case – of the chemo causing a clot – and it had only ever happened a handful of times in the country, so the medics were learning as they were treating Cleo. They were amazing.”

Cleo went into remission, and was making a good recovery and had caught up on her schooling on her return home. But on January 30, her mother Yvonne took her to the doctors with a long-standing sore throat, and the family learned that the leukaemia had returned – this time in her bone marrow – and intensive treatment has now begun.

Cleo’s aunt, Jackie Fitzpatrick, is leading the fundraising campaign, named Cleo’s Children’s Cancer Fund.

She and a group of friends had tattoos of the orange leukaemia ribbon done on Tuesday at Steve’s Tattoos, in Egremont, with £5 donations being made by the shop owner in lieu of half of the payment. In addition, a fancy dress walk will take place from Orgill to Whitehaven and back on March 8, and a skydive has been planned for August.

Proceeds will go to the RVI’s Teenage Cancer Ward on which Cleo is being treated.

Orgill School, which Cleo attends, has raised more than £1,100 which will go to support the family. Pupils returned to school on Thursday night last week for a sleepover, and then enjoyed a fun day on Friday – all wearing Cleo’s favourite colour of yellow. Parents were invited in for a coffee afternoon, organised by the Friends of Orgill School.

Also on the Orgill estate, Coleridge Stores and Egremont Express chip shop have held on-the-counter collections.

Malcolm said: “It’s a very worrying and upsetting time for all the family. Cleo is tired but is in good spirits – and is her usual cheeky self. She’s such a wonderful character.

“We want to show our appreciation for the wonderful care she has received, and any help that people can offer us would be greatly appreciated.”

To make a donation or to arrange fundraising call Jackie on 01946 824030 or email jackierimmer@sky.com

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