Leeds United help 20-year-old man's fundraising after cancer diagnosis
A 20-year-old man whose mother died of cancer when he was just four-years-old has raised thousands of pounds for charity after he was diagnosed with the disease that has blighted his family.
Former Leeds schoolboy Ellis Lee's loved ones were devastated when he was told he had Hodgkin lymphoma a week before Christmas 2018.
Ellis's mother Gail Lee, from Halton - who worked as an underwriter at Barclays in Leeds - died aged 35 in 2002 after suffering from lung cancer.
And Ellis's stepmother Sangita Lee, 48, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2017.
Sangita Lee, who has been been given the all-clear after undergoing surgery and radiotherapy treatment, said former Rawdon Benton Park school student Ellis is an "inspiration."
Since January, Ellis - who works as a media assistant at Burnley Football Club - has raised around £4,000 for Hodgkin lymphoma charity Bloodwise.
A string of top footballers and clubs have donated items to Mr Lee for auction.
Manchester City's John Stones and Manchester United star Marcus Rashford have both donated signed shirts along with Brighton and Hove Albion captain Bruno and Leicester city stars Jamie Vardy and Ben Chilwell.
Ellis said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wished him well and invited him into Manchester United's dressing room to meet the players when Burnley played at Old Trafford.
Ellis said: "Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all came over to talk to me and Rashford gave me a signed shirt."
Ellis has also received shirts from Leeds United, Chelsea, AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, and Liverpool.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche and his squad have contributed more than £1,000 to his fund-raising efforts.
Ellis is organising a fundraising gala night at the Malmaison hotel in Leeds city centre on Sunday May 5 to raise funds for St James Hospital's ward J94, which cares for cancer patients aged 18 to 25.
The night will include live music, a magician and an auction of sporting memorabilia.
Ellis, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at St James's Hospital in Leeds, was diagnosed on December 19 and started fundraising the first week in January after setting up a JustGiving page for Bloodwise.
Ellis said he had been suffering from a persistent cough for around five months before a a lump appeared on his neck in December .
He said: "It was emotional when I was told. To begin with you think the worst, it (cancer) is a silent killer,. The one I have got is a curable cancer.
"Once they told me it was curable and there is an 86 per cent success rate of curing it, that was a positive thing to hear.
"I feel like I'm a strong person and the fundraising is a distraction to take my mind off having cancer."
Ellis said: "I can't thank my stepmum enough for where I am now, either. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year but she has beaten it.
"She has given me loads of advice because she's been through it all herself. My dad has also been so supportive through it and he's been by my side every minute.
"I can't thank this club (Burnley) enough for all the support either. They've been by my side and they're always checking to see how I'm getting on.
"I'm always keeping them updated. They are a great group of people to work with from the top to the bottom."
Mr Lee's stepmother Sangita Lee, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2017 and said the family was shocked to learn of Ellis's cancer diagnosis just before Christmas the following year.
Mrs Lee said: "It was devastating for the whole family, especially with him being so young and knowing that he had lost his mum to it and he lost both grandmothers to cancer as well.
"He has done so well, raising money for the cancer charity and now the hospital. He is coping amazingly well.
"He is an inspiration. His family and friends are just amazed at what he has achieved.
"Rather than siting at home and feeling sorry for himself he has carried on working and is raising money to help others."
The fundraising gala night in aid of St James Hospital's ward J94.will take place at at the Malmaison hotel in Leeds city centre from 7.30pm to 11pm on Sunday May 5.
For tickets, contact Ellis Lee via e mail at [email protected]
Ellis's JustGiving page can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellis-lee