A family whose lives have been “turned upside down” following the cancer diagnosis of their dad are thanking the community for their “overwhelming” support.
Damian Butcher, of Ash Road, Filey, suffers from a type of rare blood cancer and has had to leave his job and his seven children to undergo chemotherapy at Castle Hill Hospital, in Hull.
The 47-year-old, who became ill only days after returning home from a cycling holiday in Spain, said: “On the 7th of July I was on an organised bike ride from Oliver’s Mount and five miles into that ride I fell very ill and ended up in hospital. When the results of the biopsy came out a week later I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome, a very aggressive type of leukemia, and without treatment I was told I only had months to live. You can live with certain types of cancer but not with this one.
“It was devastating. It turned my life upside down and it’s not just me; my family, my friends, we all go through the same pain.”
Following the diagnosis, Damian has been receiving treatment, and the youngest six of his seven children – the seven are aged 27, 22, 21, 13, 10, nine and four – have been staying with his mum Hazel Wooldridge at her Filey home.
“My kids are everything I hang on to, they’re simply everything I cling on to. I Facetime with them every day and they look really happy. I know they’re well looked after but I can’t say that I’m not worried, of course I am.”
With Damian and his wife Lorraine currently unable to work, there is little financial help coming in and the family have set up a JustGiving page to reach out for support.
Thanks to the generosity of friends and relatives, not only has their £3,000 target already been met but the family have also received a special surprise.
Hazel said: “Last week two ladies from Proudfoots where Damian used to work came here to bring us a big food parcel.
“It was like a Christmas hamper and there was anything and everything you could think of. It was overwhelming and so thoughtful.
“It’s a difficult time for us because we have no money coming in but we still have mouths to feed and bills to pay.
“They have been wonderful at Proudfoots, I think they deserve recognition but I want to stress that I’m grateful for every donation we have received, no matter how big or how small. It’s really going to be a big help.”
The food and household items have been collected by Cheryl Harris and Wendy Sellars who work at the Proudfoots store on Manham Hill, Eastfield, where Damian used to work as a cleaner.
The staff have used the money they usually put in the lottery to make a £500 donation to Damian’s JustGiving page and start a shopping trolley collection.
Cheryl said: “Damian is a very well-thought-of member of the team. He has brightened every morning at work for us with his cheeky banter and fantastic sense of humour and he gets our day off to a great start.
“When he was diagnosed with MDS it was a terrible shock to us all. As his friends we wanted to help the family as not only has Damian got a long battle in front of him, his family would also need support.”
Talking about his friends’ gesture, Damian said: “Seeing all the shopping that they brought was heartbreaking, you can’t explain that type of kindness. I’m really grateful.”
Although there is no guaranteed cure for Damian’s disease, the father-of-seven is now waiting to receive a bone marrow transplant.