Helping Yorkshire Shine: the Bowser family content
“In life, our daughter Kristina was like a bright star. She was such a giving person, in her acts, in what she said to people. She always saw the good.
“Dedicating a star to Kristina is a way of keeping her memory alive. Being able to dedicate the star, and then keep it and bring it home with us for Christmases to come, is really special.”
Lesley and Philip Bowser, from Cottingham in East Yorkshire, first dedicated a star in memory of their daughter in 2021. It now hangs proudly on the family’s tree every Christmas, helping to keep Kristina’s memory present during the festive season.
The charity’s campaign invites people to ‘help Yorkshire shine’ this Christmas. People can get involved by dedicating a Yorkshire Star to remember, celebrate or recognise someone affected by cancer. Stars are displayed on an online gallery as well as a physical Christmas tree at the charity’s Yorkshire Cancer Research Centre in Harrogate.
People can also support the campaign by donating to the charity, or by coming along to the Yorkshire Cancer Research Centre in Harrogate for a festive event on 14th
Lesley continued: “You can put a lot of pressure on Christmas to be perfect, and when someone special has passed away that makes it even more difficult. Having the star is not only a way to remember that person, but also a reminder that even on dark days, there is always a glimmer of light and hope.
“Rather than pack Kristina's Christmas star away with the tree, we keep the star hung in the house all year, taking it out on trips to make new memories and remember Kristina.”
Kristina was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2020, and had treatment at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull. She passed away in March 2021, aged 29.
Lesley continued: “It was only 11 months between Kristina’s diagnosis to her passing away, but even in that time she was constantly striving for more information and trying to raise awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms.
“Kristina was a huge advocate for knowing your body, and knowing what’s normal, so that people go to see their GP straight away when they feel something isn’t right.
“I promised that I would keep doing that, so it’s important to the family that we continue to fundraise and to raise awareness of symptoms.”
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer can include a long-lasting bloated or swollen stomach, feeling full quickly after eating, a loss of appetite, or needing to pass urine urgently or more often than normal.
As well as dedicating a star as part of Yorkshire Cancer Research’s annual Christmas campaign, Lesley and her family, who affectionately refer to themselves as ‘Team Bowser’, have also fundraised in support of the charity.
She continued: “We want to make the future look brighter for others, and to put our energy towards something that can make a difference.
“I knew about Yorkshire Cancer Research, and I’d helped with a few local events in support of the charity. It’s money raised in Yorkshire, for Yorkshire people, so it just seemed right.
“People in Yorkshire directly benefit from whatever Yorkshire Cancer Research develop and discover, but because Yorkshire is amazing, we’re also able to share these incredible discoveries with the rest of the world. I think that generosity is what being from Yorkshire is all about.”
Quote from Lesley Bowser
Taking the time to dedicate a star to Kristina, and to display the star each year, has also been an opportunity for the Bowser family to reflect on memories of previous Christmases.
Lesley said: “We have so many happy memories of Christmases when Kristina and my son, Richard, were growing up. We had all the typical traditions like putting a mince pie and sherry out for Santa. Even as they grew up and were teenagers, it wasn’t Christmas without leaving something out for Santa and Rudolph.
“We also kept up the tradition of leaving a stocking on the bedroom door. I’d often be found sneaking around late at night, even when they were adults and had been out to the pub with friends, filling their stockings for Christmas morning. There always had to be either an apple or an orange in there too.
“We’ve always been a close family, and it’s nice to have the opportunity to reflect on happy memories at Christmas.”
Emma Jacob, Communications Officer
Yorkshire Cancer Research