A doting dad goes to work and attends meetings with brightly-coloured nails after his nine-year-old daughter paints them every week to help her smile during cancer treatment.
Esme Lucas was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in March after she began feeling tired and her temperature soared to 42 degrees.
Mum Alice Lucas, 36, originally painted Esme’s nails to cheer her up during the first round of chemotherapy in hospital.
And now dad Richard, 39, lets Esme paint his nails in bright, sparkling colours to keep that smile going.
Patchwork Health worker Richard proudly faces an entire week of work meetings and school pick-ups with his pink, yellow, red, or purple talons.
Family and friends have joined ‘Esme’s Man-icure challenge’ to help raise money for Young Lives vs Cancer.
Dad-of-three Richard, from Lingfield, Surrey, said: “Esme wouldn’t let me go for the subtle pink polish she was having. I had to go full-on, with the brightest sparkliest red nail polish she could find.
“’Fair enough’, I thought – ‘it’s only for a short while, I’ll take it off later’. But her smile was worth it.
“But that smile got even bigger as Esme let me know in no uncertain terms that my foray into fantabulous nails had to last an entire week.
“A week that she knew would be full of school runs, zoom calls with work, a hospital move (with all the new faces that would bring), and plenty of other opportunities to show her wonderful handiwork to the world.”
And so ‘Esme’s Man-icure Challenge’ was born.
Richard added: “I walked in the Hospital main entrance the other day and the lady helping direct people said ‘Oh go ahead, I know you know where to go, I recognise your nail varnish!’
“I usually stand out anyway as I’m six foot five and have a ginger beard, but to be recognised for my nail varnish rather than anything else is a new one for me.”
Esme is being treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, and Richard has had his nails done there every week since the mid-March.
The family have so far raised nearly £9,000 for the Young Lives vs Cancer charity after receiving their support.
Richard added: “It’s bringing Esme such joy seeing all the photos and hearing everyone’s reactions to having funky nails.
“Every new photo makes her laugh and she’s getting really excited by the total on her JustGiving page going up and up, as are all her classmates!
“The whole thing has also created a really nice connection to all her friends and classmates at school where they’re keeping a close eye on things, and still getting the nail varnish out each week.”
Rose Bailey, fundraising engagement manager at Young Lives vs Cancer, added: “Esme has undoubtedly had a really tough year.
“It’s wonderful to hear that Esme’s manicure challenge is bringing her some joy and making her laugh at this difficult time.”
Esme’s family is asking everyone to get involved between now and Father’s Day on Sunday (20) by painting their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandads etc nails, or their own.
To donate visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Esmes-man-icure-challenge