Last week, Lily Dallen was supposed to celebrate her 21st birthday surrounded by family and friends.
Instead, the young Rutherford local found herself supported by more than 150 of those closest to her at an event held at The Bradford Hotel, to help raise money that will support her through one of the most challenging times of her life.
In February, Lily found a small pea-size lump on her neck that, after an initial misdiagnosis, was found to be Hodgkin's lymphoma.
By then the cancer had spread to both sides of Lily's neck, as well as her chest and potentially her lower abdomen. She is now undergoing chemotherapy treatment that will hopefully save her life.
"I am hopeful about the outcome, but it means I can't work for at least six months while I undergo treatment," Lily said.
"I still have expenses and bills and there's the treatment costs as well. It's a lot to manage when I'm going through something like this."
In February, Lily found a small pea-size lump on her neck that, after an initial misdiagnosis, was found to be
Determined to ease Lily's burden, and to help in any way they could, Bradford hoteliers Nick Quinn and Georgia Duff initially supported licensee Neil Hedges in his endeavors to assist with a fundraising event to be held at hotel and organised by Lily's work colleagues at Bespoke Hair.
On behalf of the hotel, Neil agreed to donate the function room and assisted with the provision of numerous food, beverage and raffle items from the hotel's suppliers and members of the community.
But when Georgia heard Lily's story first-hand, she knew they had to do more.
"I first met Lily at the fundraising event that our licensee Neil had helped organise and when I heard her story, I called Nick right away and suggested we do more to help out," Georgia said.
"I had the idea to donate one dollar for every Like and Share our fundraiser event album received on Facebook and his immediate response was, 'yep, let's do it'.
Within a few hours the social media post began receiving hundreds of Likes and Shares and the initiative quickly raised an additional $2,088 for Lily's cause.
"It was so awesome and everyone got so involved wanting to get on there and support Lily. It was great to see that we have a platform we can use like this to do good and help someone in our community," Georgia said.
Overall, the fundraising night and social media initiative have helped raise almost $15,000 for Lily, in addition to a GoFundMe campaign set up by her work colleagues.
"It's really overwhelming to have so much support," Lily said.
"Sometimes I just don't know what to say, but I am so grateful to everyone."
To make a donation, simply click the GoFundMe campaign link.