Not a day goes by when Jacquie Roeder does not think about her daughter Laura Crane.
“I still talk to her”, said Jacquie, of Edgerton, who lost Laura when she was 17 to several aggressive cancers.
But now, 20 years on, the legacy of Laura’s brave 14-month fight is still burning brightly thanks to the charity set up by Jacquie, the Laura Crane Trust (now Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust).
“The whole idea was to bring something positive out of such a tragedy”, said Jacquie, who is now fighting cancer herself.
“To have cancer is a horrible thing but to have it at that time of life when you’re on the verge of everything you’ve been waiting for and you’re chopped down like that is terrible.
“You undergo hair and weight loss and feel rotten.
“It was just awful to see.
“I was so proud of Laura and the way she coped with cancer and I loved her so much that I thought as a tribute to her I’d start the charity to make a better time for other kids going through it.”
She gave up her job as a teacher at Heaton Avenue First School in Cleckheaton to tirelessly and voluntarily campaign and raise funds through it for 15 years, supported by her husband and Laura’s stepdad, Malcolm.
Her aim was to fund research specifically into teenage cancers for those aged 13 to 24 that did not exist before and provide facilities for teens fighting cancer in hospital, including St James Hospital in Leeds where Laura received treatment.
“Laura was such a caring girl and I just wanted to put something good back into the world.
“I knew she’d fully approve.
“Quitting work was a labour of love for me.
“Doing it all also gave me some comfort, knowing that I was improving the lot of teen cancer patients.
Meet Pascha Lindley and Sophia Askeri who are Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust Ambassadors
“I thought about Laura and how dull it was as teens were in with children and sometimes in with adults.
“There was no teenage specific facilities or recreation equipment.
“All Laura had was me.”
Jacquie, who left her role in 2011, talked about some of the many achievements of the charity.
“I’m very proud of its achievements.
“Leaving it coincided with some difficult family times.
“I don’t think I imagined it would do so well but I’m a very determined mum so intended for it to succeed.
“Up to the point I left it had raised over £1.5m.
“Through the research we now know that cancer behaves differently in teens and lots of research projects have been funded.
WATCH the warm-up at the Thurstonland Wineathon which raised money for the trust below
“Apart from research, we know now teenagers in hospital with cancer are well occupied with appropriate activities to help them pass the time and take their minds of why they’re there.
“It makes them feel more relaxed and comfortable as they are with their own age group.
“At the moment we have 21 hospitals across the UK that we support.
“We’ve been just been back to see facilities at Jimmys and they’re good.”
It was the work of Jacquie and a team of others that has seen the charity grow over the years and celebrity backing that gained the charity nationwide acclaim.
“We attracted a lot of celebrities, such as Jack Dee and Catherine Tate who patronised it and helped over the years.
“The annual ball that we organised was always very well attended too.
“I think my best achievement was to have stayed wth it for as long as I did.
“The trust is still growing and doing a lot of good and I hope it will continue to do so.”
Jacquie reflected on losing Laura, who had she lived would now be 37.
“I miss her all the time and I talk to her a lot.
“It was nice to have a girl after two boys.
“She was just on the verge of going to university. She had a lovely boyfriend and lots of friends, she was a very popular girl and lived life to the full.
“My eldest son, Patrick, 43, lives in Costa Rica now but my middle child died last year in April so it’s pretty lonely but I have a lovely little granddaughter here.
“I have another two grandchildren with Patrick.”
Jacquie spoke about how Laura’s fight has affected her own battle against lung cancer and a brain tumour.
“When I was young I was silly enough to smoke a little bit and after all these years I’ve got lung cancer.
“Ive been having treatment for both for three years but I’m bearing up very well and intending to beat it.
“Laura was an inspiration to me.
“She was so brave and to watch what she went through has inspired me to fight as hard as I can.
“I also lost my mum, dad and brother to cancer so we’ve a lot of it about.
“I’m taking a positive attitude and I’m writing my life story slowly now in between getting treatment.
“I just live a day at a time and I’ve got a very nice husband who looks after me.
“The most frustrating things are that I can’t drive due to the tumour or fly to see my son Patrick.”