The founder of a charity which has made the dreams of hundreds of seriously-ill children come true has revealed she has incurable cancer.
Despite the devastating diagnosis, Francine Levin has vowed to continue with efforts to brighten the lives of youngsters with life-threatening diseases.
She set up Leeds-based Make A Dream in 1993 after seeing young cancer patients as she underwent treatment for breast cancer.
Mrs Levin, from Shadwell, was successfully treated – but medics have since discovered the disease is now terminal.
Speaking for the first time about the diagnosis, she said: “It’s like living under a black cloud and that part is difficult.
“What I try to do is stay busy. I am not a person that sits at home.
“I am not going to die tomorrow, but it’s a case of making the most of your life.”
The mother-of-one set up Make A Dream with her husband Stuart after she saw children undergoing cancer treatment at the former Cookridge Hospital 20 years ago.
She said: “In my naivety I didn’t know that children got cancer.
“I’d never done charity work in my life but I took one look at the kids and said to Stuart that I wanted to give them something to look forward to other than hospital visits.
“I said that maybe we could make a dream come true for them and as the words left my lips the charity was formed.”
Since then the charity has been making the wishes of youngsters who are seriously or terminally-ill come true, with hundreds granted.
Many of the youngsters who the charity helps have cancer – which Mrs Levin is also living with.
After suffering back pain, she was told the disease was in her bones.
The 65-year-old is undergoing palliative care and is determined to make the most of her time.
“This is a very special year for Make A Dream as it is our 20th anniversary,” she said.
“Looking back I am so proud of the work that we have done, and I have no intention of stopping what we do.”
It is hoped their annual dinner, on November 7 at Leeds United Conference Centre, will be the most successful yet. Buy tickets via www.makeadream.org.