FRIENDS have launched a fundraising campaign for the Teenage Cancer Trust after a student from Musselburgh was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer.

Staff at Pinocchio’s Nursery at Eskbank, Dalkeith, decided to help the charity when they heard that 21-year-old Dan Taylor, who is studying sport and exercise at Edinburgh Napier University, had osteosarcoma after visiting his doctor with a sore leg.

Most people diagnosed with the condition are under the age of 25.

Dan’s girlfriend Kirsty Hunter, who is also 21 and from Musselburgh, works at the nursery, where colleagues and families have rallied round to support the couple, who are both former pupils of Musselburgh Grammar School.

Dan’s treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy, which has resulted in him spending time in hospital.

Dan told the Courier: “All of a sudden I began experiencing pain in my lower leg and I never thought anything of it at first. However, the pain started to get worse day by day. I’m not one for frequently visiting the doctors but the pain became unbearable and it was even becoming difficult to walk.

“After a couple of weeks my girlfriend and family were adamant I had to go and I finally gave in and decided that I really needed to make an appointment.

“I was given a course of anti-inflammatory drugs; however, the pain was so unbearable one evening that I headed straight to accident and emergency at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

“Following a series of tests I was made aware that the painful lump in my leg could possibly be a tumour. This led to biopsies which confirmed my osteosarcoma. I now understand and would always encourage others with pain or queries to go and get them seen to. This is one of the harder cancers to diagnose and often takes multiple trips to the GP or hospital, so I am thankful I was diagnosed so quickly.”

He explained: “Being diagnosed with bone cancer still hasn’t really sunk in yet and I’m not sure if it ever will. The treatment process is moving at a steady pace which doesn’t allow much time for overthinking or worrying which I’m extremely happy about. I’ve been given a treatment plan which I have realised is so important because instead of thinking about the long term I can set myself short term goals and keep myself in a positive mindset.”

Dan added: “I am beginning to experience the different side effects of my treatment like sickness, mouth ulcers and tiredness I think for me this will be the hardest part as well as the long stays in hospital. However, I am lucky to be getting my treatment at the Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Unit at the Western General Hospital which is funded largely by the Teenage Cancer Trust. It helps patients between the ages of 16 and 25, and makes spending time here more bearable. For me, being able to have my own room with a TV and the ability to have friends and family visit constantly has been a huge help.

“They also have an activity hub with Sky TV, an Xbox, games and so much more where you can talk to people in similar situations or even just chill out. The staff here are so helpful and friendly and make the process a whole lot easier for people like me.”

Pinocchio’s preschool supervisor Emma Edwards, from Bonnyrigg, set up a JustGiving page in the hope it would raise £250 in online donations for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

But within 24 hours, that target was almost doubled and now stands at almost £2,000.

Emma said: “When something like this happens it just makes you want to help in anyway possible and I think for me being Kirsty’s supervisor as well as best friend it just hit a bit closer to home. Kirsty and Dan are two of the most lovely people I’ve met. I just had to do something to show them how many people actually care about them and want to help, especially with how amazing Kirsty had been coping coming into work as normal and working to her full ensuring the children were happy.”

Children at the nursery are looking forward to taking part in a sponsored scavenger hunt after being given objects to find at home and around the local community. Dan will judge the winner of the best picture created from the items they find. Funds raised at the event will go to the Western’s Teenage and Young Adult Unit.

The youngsters will also wear yellow on February 6 which is the colour of the bone cancer ribbon.

Emma said: “When I first told the children about the situation it really sunk in of just how caring children can be. We involved them fully in the ideas for the fundraiser and they all were so excited at the thought of being able to help Kirsty smile and make Dan all better for her.

“I think it’s so important to teach children from a young age how to help each other and be kind as well as why charities are so important. Of course we told the children a very child friendly story of the whole thing but their reaction was just amazing. One child came in the next again day with £20 from their piggy bank it was just so lovely.”

Dan commented: “I was more than happy to go ahead with Emma’s ideas as I agreed that it is a great way of raising awareness of bone cancer and allowing us to give back to a charity who, although I am still at the beginning of my treatment, has already helped me massively.

“When they first posted it on the Pinocchio’s Facebook page it was crazy how quickly people responded. I was overwhelmed by the lovely comments the parents and others were leaving, sending myself, Kirsty and family their best wishes.

“Kirsty and Emma have told me about the different things the children at the nursery have suggested they collect for their hunt and it was nice to hear all their ideas. It was also great to hear all their responses and comments when they were told about me being unwell, it’s amazing the way their minds work. Some of them drew me some lovely Get Well Soon pictures too. It’s been amazing and very touching to have the support from everyone at Pinocchio’s, the families included, because for me it is important and massively reassuring to know that the people I love are being supported at home whilst I am in hospital.”

Kirsty said: “The staff, children and families have all been amazing and really supportive since Emma has explained our story to them. This has made it a lot easier for me to continue to come to my work as usual throughout it all. Dan has loved hearing all mine and Emma’s stories from the children, it has cheered him up whilst being in hospital and receiving their lovely comments and pictures. I couldn’t be more proud of how he is dealing with all of this.”

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