Sitting in the hospital bed next to my big sister, we chatted, laughed and cried. Even though Charley was very poorly, she still managed to help me prepare for a job interview the next day! We stayed up late chatting and almost forgot where we were for a minute.
We were quickly brought back down to earth when my sister screamed out in pain, I called for the nurse who administered the strong drugs to Charley. My heart sank and I felt helpless, we both cried. This scenario sadly became all too familiar and part of our reality over the next 6 months. As the pain eased and the tears continued, Charley’s frustrations were made very clear, she was frustrated by her continuous pain and because her cancer was so rare (being the only person in the world to have her type of cancer) there was no clear treatment plan for her or clarity on what her future could look like.
Charley’s illness meant that she couldn’t work, she lost her business that she put blood, sweat and tears into, she struggled to pay the bills, her mortgage and couldn’t comfortably financially support her wife and daughter. This left her heartbroken. There was no available funding for patients suffering from rare cancers like there is for breast cancer or Lung cancer, Charley was on her own.
Charley and I chatted through her frustrations and she was committed to setting up a charity to support patients just like her; patients suffering from a rare cancer who struggled to pay their bills, to pay for childcare, psychological support, transport to and from medical appointments, alternative treatments such as yoga, meditation, oxygen chambers, the list goes on. We took turns in suggesting names for the charity, we discussed how she would set it up and how she would make it successful. The idea of setting up a charity to support others suffering was an incredible focus for Charley through her battle.
Whilst Charley continued living with great uncertainty and her health deteriorating, her specialist informed Charley about an innovative cancer treatment that had proven to support other cancer patients and there was a very small chance it could help Charley. It was a chance worth taking. That treatment was Immunotherapy and because the treatment was so new, the NHS wouldn’t pay for it, it was VERY expensive and as a family, we couldn’t afford it. Charley needed this treatment quickly and Charley being Charley took this as a challenge. Charley rallied her friends and family and created the Cure4Charley campaign and began to raise important funds for her treatment. The Cure4Charley team was made up of several of Charley’s friends and family and through organising bike rides, selling jewellery, cake sales, sponsored hair cuts, celebrity Tweets (Yes, Dawn French, Harry Judd and Derren Brown supported us with fundraising) In just 3 months, we raised over £150,000.
It was time for Charley to begin her course of Immunotherapy, she took her first and second dose but then sadly Charley became too poorly to digest the drugs. Charley fought harder than anyone I know, she fought to stay alive to see her daughter Aurelia grow up, she wasn’t ready to go but sadly the disease took over and Charley continued to deteriorate, on 14th April 2017, Charley passed away peacefully with her family by her side.
Charley didn’t live long enough to be able to set up the charity, it was my time to make her proud and carry out her legacy by setting up a charity in her name.
The Charley Ashton Foundation was created in February 2018 in Charley’s memory to support individuals with rare cancers by funding alternative treatments and offering tailor-made grants to improve their quality of life.
Since 2018, friends of Charley’s have completed some admirable challenges and continue to raise important funds for the charity.
The charity has supported many people suffering and continues to do so.
Fundraising and grant stories will be shared in the charity blog, so keep an eye out on the site for updates.
A HUGE thank you to all those who worked incredibly hard to fundraise for Cure4Charley in 2016 and to those who have since raised money and donated money to The Charley Ashton Foundation. Thank you for the love and support you have given to my sister, my family and me, we wouldn’t be here today without your support and kindness.
We may only be a small charity but we have big plans.
Thank you for visiting our page,
Charity Founder and Charley’s little sister