Earlier this year, five-year-old Neiva and her family received devastating news. What had begun as a pain in her shoulder was revealed to be Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
Following her diagnosis in April, she has undergone a complex 12-hour operation in Birmingham Children’s Hospital to save her right arm where the tumour was located. This involved using a small bone from her leg as a replacement for the bone that had the tumour in it.
Now, Neiva faces intensive chemotherapy on Ward 6 of Sheffield Children's Hospital, where children with cancer and blood disorders are cared for. Her condition requires intensive multi-drug chemotherapy in order to improve her chances of being cured which means spending many months in hospital to help manage the side effects of the treatment.
Despite everything she has already been through, and what she knows is yet to come, Neiva continues to hold her head high – leaping out of bed when she is able, to craft, play music, dance, and race along corridors in a push-along car.
As a thank you to the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and all the other caring staff at the hospital, Neiva’s aunty, Rebecca Kudryk, has raised £1,500 for Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust as she prepares to take on the Sheffield 10K. Rebecca will be tackling the challenge on September 24 during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Rebecca said: “I’m raising money for The Children's Hospital Charity to acknowledge the incredible care and brilliant work done by Sheffield Children’s on Neiva's behalf and every child that enters the Sheffield Children's Hospital every day.
“Every single facet of her care from the creative and nurturing play specialists, the musicians, the crazy clown visits, the playful geniuses (Sme and Sean) in Orthopaedics, the gentle therapy dogs and their wonderful owners and above all else the glue that binds them together - the kind and compassionate nurses, doctors and wider medical team.”
The Children’s Hospital Charity works to ensure Sheffield Children’s has what it wants, when needed, to ensure the best possible care for patients. In 2022, the Charity raised £2.75 million towards the new ward. The upgraded facilities are bigger and brighter, with improved spaces for parents to stay with their children and a dedicated playroom and schoolroom at its heart.
Rebecca added: “I think most people's perception of a Children's Hospital and in particular a children's cancer ward would be one of sorrow and sadness, and whilst what children go through within those walls seems so desperately unfair, as patients and family, it is a place that wraps you up in a cocoon and step by step uses every mechanism to make your child well again.
“It is often the simple things that Neiva's parents and I have witnessed firsthand that can make such a difference - from the little crafting packs and keepsake teddies used as instruments to demonstrate and mimic the procedures the child will go through to give them reassurance, to the barrel loads of glitter, play dough, glue sticks, miles of paper, and batteries that power the remote-control cars that Neiva takes such glee in racing.
“The volunteer book readers that come to the bedside to bring fresh eyes and imagination to the words on a page for the kids. Chris the inventive and charismatic musician who comes in weekly to get Neiva and the other children huddled together in a room to make the most colourful, vibrant sounds.
“Behind those walls, children have minutes and hours to play and joy that you would not believe possible, given their illness, and that is part of the brilliance of Sheffield Children's Hospital and why I am doing the Sheffield 10K run to raise money for this charity.
“Neiva will spend many months more undergoing treatment. Months of sickness, struggling to eat, fighting the anxiety that comes with the scans, x-rays, and frequent blood checks, moments where her battery will feel low on power- but she could not be in better hands.”
Phoebe Marriott, Events Fundraising Officer for The Children’s Hospital Charity said: “It is incredibly selfless of Rebecca to take on the Sheffield 10K in support of The Children’s Hospital Charity, especially with it being in the same month as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“Despite going through such difficult times, it is extraordinary to see how passionate the family have been in wanting to give back to Sheffield Children’s. Neiva has already been through so much at such a young age - she is an inspiration to us here at the Charity.”
To support Rebecca in her Sheffield 10K for Neiva, you can make a donation via her JustGiving page.