'People are there to help you - but you have to ask'

Cancer survivor Sophie Wardlow used crowdfunding to seek help when she needed it most

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The Independent Online

Over the past decade, donation-based crowdfunding has not only played a major part in funding tech start-ups and ideas, it has also revolutionised the charity sector. It’s both a way for charities to fundraise for specific projects and for individuals to raise money or support for issues - as Sophie Wardlow knows.

Sophie has suffered with endometriosis since the age of 14, but only received a diagnosis aged 17 after being misdiagnosed several times. Sophie later went on to develop and beat endometrial ovarian cancer twice, which saw her go in and out of hospital for much of her twenties.

Sophie, now aged 27, says: “I’ve probably been through more than your average 27 year old, but I’d like to think I'm exceptionally positive and want to live each day as if it were my last. I love sharing this energy with others.”

It’s exactly this idea of sharing that led Sophie to share her own story via a JustGiving Crowdfunding page, using it to ask for help when she needed it most.

“I had just come out of a really horrible hospital appointment where I was told I’d need a partial hysterectomy”,” Sophie says, explaining that patients who need this operation are advised to freeze their eggs if they hope to have a child in the future. However, at present the NHS cannot pay for this to happen.

“I’m desperate to be a mum one day, and knew my only option left was to freeze my eggs,” Sophie says. “I was on the bus back home from the hospital feeling quite teary and saw a lady I knew. We began speaking and I - to my embarrassment - had a little cry. She was the one who suggested that maybe I should think about setting up a JustGiving page to try and get some help from friends so that I could freeze my eggs before my partial hysterectomy.”

Sophie aimed to raise £4,000 to cover the process of freezing her eggs, and set up a JustGiving Crowdfunding page with the knowing name of ‘little miss fighter chops asks for help’. She reached her target within just two months. 

“Sometimes we have to be brave and ask for help, this was one of those times,” says Sophie. “It’s incredibly humbling and actually makes me quite emotional when thinking about some of my encounters I’ve had since sharing my story. 

“I sobbed when I hit my £4,000 target just in December. It was quite possibly the best Christmas present ever. I’m still in shock about people's generosity. Strangers surprised me the most - they really couldn't wait to do more to help me and my cause.”

Unfortunately, since Sophie’s page closed her cancer has returned in her blood. “I’m undergoing some pretty terrible treatment,” she says. “But the money I raised through my crowdfunding now means I can freeze my eggs for up to ten years, which give me the physical and psychological capacity to potentially be a mother in the future. I genuinely cannot thank people enough for giving me this chance.

"My biggest tips for someone wanting to set up a Crowdfunding Page are don't be scared, people do actually want to help. Be Honest - No matter how scary your story feels or is, it's not the worst out there and unless people hear of the details, then how do they know how and why they're helping? And lastly, have faith. You will reach your target and if you don't within the time you set you can always extend it a bit longer and share all that more."

See Sophie’s story www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/littlemissfighterchopsasksforhelp.