A London mother who tragically died of breast cancer at the age of 40 has left her three children a heartwarming legacy of love and inspiration.
While battling cancer, Danielle Leslie managed to raise a staggering £ 800,000 for charity and also created beautiful treasure chests for her sons, Ben, 23, and Joe, 20, and daughter Amy, 17.
The inside of each beautiful box was filled with cards and letters written for the special occasions she would never share.
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Her gifts to Amy included a tiara for her wedding day, a baby bracelet for when she becomes a mother, and even student plates in preparation for her driving test, reports MirrorOnline.
The A-level student says: “The thought and love in these boxes of cards, all handwritten and personal to me and my brothers as they go through a grueling treatment and face the end – that says it all you need to know about mother.”
The taxes inspired Amy, her brothers and their father Spencer to end what Danielle had started with her charity Future Dreams – to open a breast cancer support center.
Nearly £ 8 million has now been raised – of which £ 3 million has been spent on cancer research – and in October it completed Danielle’s mission, opening the Future Dreams House in Kings Cross, central London.
Dance studio leader Danielle and Amy’s grandmother Sylvie Henry started the charity back in 2008 with just £ 100 behind her.
Sylvie was told she had incurable lung cancer in 2005, and Danielle was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
They staged two West End events, backed by big names like Cat Deeley, Patrick Kielty, Denise Van Outen and EastEnders’ Tamzin Outhwaite.
Amy says: “When mom and mom, my grandfather, both died within a year of each other in 2009, it tore a big hole in our lives, but they left their charity so we could continue. They wanted no woman to “going through cancer alone. It has been a complete privilege to continue that campaign.”
Amy was only six when her mother died and remembers that home was no longer the fun place it had been. She says of her mother: “When I got put together the amazing woman she was, the more sad I became that she had been taken from us.
“The cards and the letters, the little reminders of her, it was so terribly sad, but also so beautiful to run your fingers over her writing, mark where she had been. Dad never gave up, he always did his best to put us and the charity before himself. ”
Amy started helping Future Dreams when she was around 13, saying, “That was the time I really connected with my mom, I think.”
The Future Dreams hub is billed as the only specialized breast cancer support center with virtual and personal support in the UK. It offers life coaching, financial advice, tips on exercise and healthy eating, acupuncture, yoga, a bra fitting service after surgery, just to name a few.
At the start of the pandemic, it launched a nationwide campaign to support patients, dispatch more than 6,000 care packages, donate more than 1,000 post-surgical bras, post free scarves and deliver hundreds of meals to NHS staff.
It also runs awareness campaigns that encourage all women to check their breasts regularly.
In addition, it has body safety courses and has produced a podcast – And Then Came Breast Cancer – with BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire, who underwent a mastectomy and eight months of chemo and radiation treatment following her 2015 breast cancer diagnosis.
Amy says: “Mom and Mom had so many things they wanted to happen – if they could see what the charity has become, she would be so proud. Not in a million years we would have ever thought we would get this far . “
In 2018, on the charity’s 10th anniversary, Amy gave a speech to an audience of more than 2,000 at the London Palladium.
She says, “Of course I was nervous, but with my mom’s favorite pink shoes, I’ve never been in doubt about talking about charity.”
Amy’s father, property developer Spencer, 55, of Mill Hill, North London, says: “We have a vision to keep growing so that every single family in the UK affected by breast cancer receives support.
“Like so many charities, the NHS has really felt the strain financially since the beginning of the pandemic, and we can save them money, as well as provide a completely holistic range of services and treatments.”
Spencer credits the support of Liz Hurley, who cut the ribbon at the center’s opening, and Estée Lauder, who donated £ 500,000 to the project.
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He says: “The new center simply would not have come into being without them.
He adds: “Liz Hurley is not just Estée Lauder’s ambassador – she has been by our side from day one.”
It is hoped that Future Dreams House will support up to 10,000 women a year and their families.
Helen Morgan, 43, a breast cancer survivor and Future Dreams ambassador, says: “When you get treatment, no one shows you how to wash hair, and when you go through chemo, how to stop the skin from falling off. “the ends of your fingertips, how you still eat when your mouth is full of sores and you can barely speak. When I went through the treatment, I found it really hard and I felt really lonely.”
Amy explains the name of the charity: “It’s from the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, ‘The future belongs to those who are in the beauty of their dreams’.
“And that’s exactly what we do and make mom’s dream a beautiful reality.”
To donate, visit futuredreams.org.uk
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