This post has been a hard one to write. The Henry Allen Trust has a very special place in our heart for so many reasons. And in pulling this together i’ve been reminded just how cruel Childhood Cancer is. I’ve scrolled through facebook looking for the right image to use for this post and I lost myself in a lot of beautiful yet painful moments for Henry Allen.
You see Henry was the beautiful son of Dawn and Mark Allen…
Henry Allen was just two when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that affects nerve tissue.
Despite treatment Henry’s condition deteriorated. Henry wanted to come home and his family spent their last days together making memories and talking about Henrys wishes. This included helping other children and families affected by childhood cancer.
The Henry Allen Trust will be about “Henry’s family bringing happiness to your family”.https://thehenryallentrust.org.uk/
As a local from Milton Keynes I was familiar with The Henry Allen Trust but it wasn’t something I was really aware of. I’d seen the odd post on facebook or a poster somewhere.
But since our D-Day The Henry Allen Trust became part of our conscience. Their leaflet was in our cancer pack from the Kamran ward. The Milton Keynes team told us to get in touch with Dawn.
And I am thankful every single day that we did.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is about raising the profile of childhood cancer, putting a spotlight on some of the most wonderful charities who are helping families with cancer.
What a lot of the charities are doing is filling the void, the gaping hole left by underfunding from our government. What most charities are doing is acting as a lifeline, whether that is emotional, financial or practical. It is clear throughout our experience without these charities life for families with cancer would be so much harder. And that is where The Henry Allen Trust comes in.
And to fully understand the magic that is The Henry Allen Trust you need to understand what they do and how they spread happiness during dark times.
The Henry Allen Trust: Monthly Meet Up
Our first experience with The Henry Allen Trust was attending one of their monthly THAT Meet Ups. It was at our local pottery painting shop Playful Pottery.
I was nervous, Bilbo was up and down with his treatment, I didn’t know anyone. I’d already had a weird experience when I attended the Oxford Christmas Party. I had, had a panic attack when I saw the room full of such poorly children and realised we were one of those families.
I was immediately put at ease. Dawn and the team put huge amounts of care and attention into every event they organise for cancer families. You’re made to feel welcome immediately and they know the risks we face. They get our cancer kids mood swings and behaviour, they understand the picky eating.
And they draw out the quiet sibling who is used to being in the shadows.
From the moment you arrive at a THAT event the smiles are wide and the laughs come from the belly.
The Henry Allen Trust: Safe Space
Set up in memory of Henry Allen, to create a lasting legacy and bring ‘Henry’s Happiness’ to families battling childhood cancer.Charity Aims
And what those monthly meet ups give us parents is a breather, or a chance to ask questions, a chance to catch our breath and have a few hours with people who just get it.
You can steal 5 minutes whilst your kids are happy and swap notes with other cancer parents. This happens at hospital too but it is often harder as you’re distracted with treatments and the general busyness of the ward.
And what it gives the kids is a safe space. Some time to be kids, to have fun and not think about cancer or treatment. And by kids, it is not just the kids having treatment what The Henry Allen Trust does is include the whole family and that includes siblings and in our case nanny too.
Everyone is welcome.
The Henry Allen Trust: Support
We’ve received so much support through THAT. Meeting other families has given us the opportunity to allow Bilbo to form bonds with other children on similar treatment paths. In particular one little boy has helped us no end.
Bilbo looks up to him and as he has ticked off treatment milestones, we’ve been able to talk to Bilbo about him and use him as the role model to help him transition on his own treatment path. It was this little boy who helped Bilbo get comfortable with finger pricks. And he played a huge part in helping give Bilbo the confidence to try taking tablets.
The team have funded oncology nurse training. They provide care packages to families when they’re admitted into hospital. The team spread happiness on the wards at Easter, at Christmas and throughout the year.
Dawn and the team offer counselling, tutoring for children who aren’t able to go to school. They grant wishes and help with finding financial aid and support for families. THAT advocate for children, for families and are ALWAYS there!
The work which Dawn and the team do is nothing short of amazing. Their energy and determination for things to be different touches people in their darkest moments. They are so much more that the things people see like fun days and wishes. They have transformed cancer care at local hospitals making the experience safer and better for everyone and they never stop striving to drive up standards further and educate people more.Jenny Street, Cancer Parent
And at the heart of the The Henry Allen Trust is Dawn. Dawn is Henry’s mummy and one of the most inspirational women I know. She has the most unbelievably warm and infectious personality. It is impossible not to fall in love with her instantly. In the short of space If time we’ve known her my boys have grown to love and adore her as have we.
Dawn’s name in this house raises an instant smile. She’s been at the heart of so many of the happy memories we’ve made. And I will forever be in her debt. Bilbo now fondly refers to her as one of his best friends.
I know that for Dawn and Mark every day is still incredibly painful, they miss Henry every second of the day and night. Whilst I never met him I feel like he is a part of everything THAT does. His legacy lives on through the work they do, he would be so proud of what they’ve achieved and how much difference they make to SOOO many people.
What can you do to help?
Dawn and the team organise some pretty mega fundraising events.
The Black and Gold Ball is in a few weeks – if you’re local, i’m organising a ladies night table and have three spaces left.
There is the family fireworks in November.
And annually there is The Henry Allen Trust Family Funday.
If you’re local please support these events you won’t regret it. They raise vital funds to allow THAT to keep supporting families and they’re so much fun!
Or you can donate:
Since you’re here, hopefully you will find some of our other posts useful and will consider sharing them through Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: