A Middlesbrough shop owner who suffers from a rare form of blood cancer is having her head shaved to raise money for charity.
Sue Denny’s father, mother, her husband’s parents and her brother-on-law have all died of cancer.
On Saturday (18 September) – a day after her 57th birthday – Sue is joining thousands of other fund-raisers around the country who since 2015 have Braved the Shave for Macmillan Cancer Support, donating a staggering £23m.
This year alone £1.8m has been raised through the campaign. That money would fund the equivalent of 34 Macmillan nurses for a year.
Sue and her sister June Jones run The Crafty Sisters shop in the Dundas Indoor Market. The shop is split between Sue’s business Ellenswood Pyrography and Stitch and Sew where June sells handmade children’s clothes.
June’s husband Bob died more than 10 years ago, aged just 59. He had stem cell cancer and when he was being treated in hospital had been allocated a Macmillan nurse for his return home.
“Unfortunately he never came out of hospital. He never met her,” said Sue. Her dad died from lung cancer when she was 11 and her mother was 75 when she died from bowel cancer.
Sue was diagnosed with indolent systemic mastocytosis in her early 50s. Three years ago she suffered a terrifying health scare when she was visiting Middlesbrough town centre with her husband Maurice.
“I could barely breathe. My eyes were closing. My throat was closing,” said Sue. “I ended up on a trolley. I was on oxygen and my blood pressure dropped.”
She was told later that a doctor, fearing the worst, said Maurice should tell her he loved her.
“I was very calm. I was thinking that I’m not going to see Maurice, my brothers and sisters anymore, but mum’s waiting for me,” she recalled.
Sue is on permanent medication, has regular check-ups at a specialist hospital and has not had a repeat of such a serious incident.
“But I’m not really doing the head shave for me, it’s for everybody,” she said. Sue and Maurice cut each other’s hair and that is where the idea came to lose all of her “pride and joy”.
Sue is an experienced fund-raiser. She has zip wired off the Transporter Bridge on behalf of Middlesbrough’s Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice and taken part in the Great North Run to raise money for cancer patients at The James Cook University Hospital. Sue also gives cash from the sale of carrier bags in her shop to the Great North Air Ambulance.
Dundas Indoor Market manager David Harris is making a donation to start the shave and help Sue on her way towards her target of £500.
He said: “I have known Sue and her family for a few years now as they had a popular stall on our regular Monthly Market and was delighted when they moved into the market permanently early 2020.
“They have become an integral member of our group of independent businesses here and are hugely supportive of the other traders, so it came as no surprise that she decided to do this. I would urge as many people as possible to support her.”
Macmillan Cancer Support’s commitment is to help everyone with cancer live life as fully as they can, providing physical, financial and emotional support.
Donations to Sue can be made through her page on Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Fund Me website http://gofund.me/82dcf517