School gets behind breast cancer fighter’s fundraising effort

A breast cancer survivor showed her gratitude to staff at the Linda McCartney Centre by raising more than £600 with a cake sale at the school she works at in Anfield.

On 23 June 2010, primary school learning support assistant Evelyn Parr, from Everton received the devastating news that she had grade 3 breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.

She took time off from her job at Pinehurst Primary School in Anfield and within two weeks underwent a single mastectomy under the expert guidance of surgeon Alison Waghorn and consultant oncologist Susan O’Reilly at the Linda McCartney Centre.

It was a difficult time for Evelyn’s family – her husband had been discharged after major surgery on compression of the spinal cord and her father diagnosed with prostate cancer just three months before her own diagnosis.

“It was a tough year but we got through it,” recalled 53-year-old Evelyn.

She underwent a three-month course of chemotherapy at the Linda McCartney Centre before being prescribed Herceptin for 12 months and receiving three weeks of radiotherapy at Clatterbridge. She has since had a breast reconstruction.

“The nurses, doctors, all the staff the Linda McCartney Centre were fantastic,” she added. “They were very caring and understanding.

“My friend, Pauline McNulty, came with me all the time. Her support was outstanding. She helped me through it and kept me laughing.”

While off work recovering, Evelyn paid a visit to the school – where she has worked for 12 years – to catch up with colleagues.

She explained: “One of the teachers asked me to come in to a class because the children were wondering where I was. The teacher said ‘As you all know, Mrs Parr hasn’t been very well’.

“I explained I’d been off because I’ve had cancer and took my hat off and said I’ve lost my hair.

“One of the kids put his hand up and said ‘my granddad had cancer and he died’. The teacher reassured the kids not everybody who has cancer dies, saying ‘look, Mrs Parr is still here’. It was good for them to see that not everyone who has cancer dies.

“The kids are really supportive. They’re great. Some of their mums have had cancer and they’ve seen them with no hair so a lot of the juniors understand.”

Evelyn, who returned to work at the school in March 2011, said: “I wanted to go back to work, physically and mentally, to get a bit of normality back.”

She organised a coffee and cake sale in the school for staff and parents on 27 September this year, raising £628.65 for the Royal’s R Charity on behalf of the Linda McCartney Centre. In the afternoon, the children were allowed to buy cakes at a reduced price, including pop cakes created by one pupil’s mum.

Evelyn added: “The children said we had ‘cancer coffee’! A lot of the parents sent money – they were very supportive.”

Loren Slade, events and community fundraiser for the Royal’s R Charity, said: “It was lovely to meet Evelyn and the pupils at Pinehurst primary school – they have raised a fantastic amount of money from their cake sale.

“Evelyn worked hard to make this day possible and with a little help and support from her colleagues, the day was a huge success.

“We would love more supporters to pop the kettle on and sell a few cakes for us, especially as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!”