Earby cancer victim’s daughter in fund-raising challenge

Hayley Toothill
Hayley Toothill

A DAUGHTER who was left homeless when she lost her mum to cancer six years ago has turned her life around and transformed the anniversary of her death into a celebration of her life - fund-raising more than £400 for charity.

Hayley Toothill (22), who grew up in Earby with her mum Catherine, said she had always found the anniversary a difficult day during which she would sit at home in her pyjamas feeling sorry for herself.

Catherine died suddenly in 2005 aged 47 with undiagnosed secondary brain tumours, which had spread from cancer in her lungs.

Hayley said: “After she died I went into charity-funded care, moving to Manchester at the age of 17. It was a very difficult time. I lived there for two years and in my second year was studying evening classes alongside two jobs so I could go to university. On the anniversary I would take the day off work and hide away as it was the only day of the year I felt truely close to her.”

Now a graduate of Sheffield Hallam University and studying for an MA in online communications, Hayley has turned her life around. This year, instead of being cooped up at home, she decided to complete a 20-mile walk with her boyfriend Dan Taylor around Earby. They raised £408 for Sheffield-based charity Sophie’s Wish, part of the national charity Brain Tumour Research.

Hayley said: “I thought this year I should use the day as an opportunity to do something productive and show my mum how much I’ve achieved. I feel like I have been through all the rubbish stuff and have had such a positive year. It was nice to come home to Earby; my older sisters are here and I have very happy memories of growing up in the town.

“We started in Foulridge and walked up around Earby and back through Laneshaw Bridge. It was fun walk and we put some flowers and coconut mushroom sweets on my mum’s grave. Undiagnosed secondary brain tumours, which is what killed her rather than the lung cancer, is under-researched yet is so fatal.

“It kills me inside knowing there are other people in the world missing someone dearly because of any type of cancer. Every penny can make a difference, so I thought it right to do my bit in helping raise money for a worthwhile cause.”

Visit http://sophieswish.org.uk for more information.