The parents of Kelly Turner, Linda and Martin, recently visited The Institute of Cancer Research, London, to see the labs doing research into the cancer that took Kelly’s life.
Kelly passed away in 2017, aged 17, from Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumour (DSRCT) – a rare and particularly aggressive type of sarcoma that occurs mostly in adolescents and young people. It is very difficult to treat and has a poor prognosis.
Throughout September, the ICR is recognising Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with news stories, videos and blog posts that highlight our latest efforts to improve the lives of children with cancer.
Kelly's wish to help others with DSRCT
Linda and Martin got the devastating news of Kelly’s diagnosis in 2015 and were told that she would only have two years to live. With limited treatment options, and nothing specific to DSRCT, Kelly’s parents set out to fundraise £1 million for treatment in the USA.
Kelly’s determined parents raised an incredible £600,000 and, in the last week of her life, Kelly shared her wish that, if the funds could not be used for her treatment, they should be donated to Professor Janet Shipley and her team at the ICR. Kelly had met Professor Shipley and learnt about her team’s work to improve the outlook for patients like Kelly.
The generosity of the Turner family, and their supporters, has given Professor Shipley’s research an unimaginable boost.
Finding new treatments with fewer side effects
For the first time since Kelly’s death, Martin and Linda visited Professor Shipley to find out more about her legacy. Janet and her team were privileged to show Martin and Linda around their labs and to introduce them to Dr Anastasia Loktev – a researcher directly funded by Kelly’s foundation.
Dr Loktev is a Postdoctoral Training Fellow in the Sarcoma Molecular Pathology team and her research will be focusing on gaining deeper understanding of the genetic changes associated with DSRCT and using that information to find new treatment options, which might have fewer side effects.
This is an important goal for Kelly’s parents – Kelly received 28 rounds of chemotherapy as doctors tried to treat her cancer. There is no targeted treatment for DSRCT so none of these therapies were specific to Kelly’s cancer and most of them made her nauseous and weak.
Aiming to raise over £1 million for research
After meeting Kelly’s parents, Anastasia said:
“It was an inspirational experience to meet Martin and Linda, whose personal commitment and dedication to support our research has made a great impression on me.
“Their visit reminded us that our work goes far beyond scientific interest and is of great significance for both patients and their families. I sincerely hope that I can make a contribution to improve the therapy of this type of cancer.”
The foundation set up in Kelly’s name is continuing to fundraise and aims to raise over £1 million. Kelly’s dad, Martin, said:
“We are never going to give up. We told Kelly we never would and we never will.”
To make a donation and support research in Kelly's memory, please visit the Kelly Turner Foundation JustGiving page.