Cancer survivor Sarah is a shining star

A BRAVE young girl has been given the all clear after a two year battle with cancer.

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Sarah McGinnes shows off her Litte Star award
Sarah McGinnes shows off her Litte Star award

When she was four, in 2010, Sarah McGinnes was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukamia, and underwent gruelling chemotherapy and steroid treatments which left her unable to walk.

But then just before her sixth birthday she received the good news her family had been waiting for.

Mum Lynsey Alexander, 31, from Milton of Campsie, said: "It was double celebrations it was just amazing, I was able to tell Sarah that was the leukaemia away and she was going to stop chemotherapy a week after that, it was great.

"We waited for this day to come for over two years – it is amazing that it's here, and its finished."

Sarah, who is now six, first went to the doctors when she returned from holiday with a small lump on her thumb.

The lump, which turned out to be an abscess, was removed but, Sarah, then three-years-old, remained pale and weak.

Her mum took her to the GP, and in September 2010, she was diagnosed with leukemia.

A gruelling course of treatment began immediately.

Lynsey said: "The steroids affected Sarah's ability to walk. At one point during treatment she couldn't walk and she would go about on her knees."

In January 2011, the family faced more devastating news when Sarah's gran, Joan Alexander, was diagnosed with non-Hogkin lymphoma – a blood cancer.

But Sarah, and her older brother Ryan, 11, stepped up to support Joan and their gran moved in with them.

Lynsey said: "Sarah thought she was a doctor by this point, she was like 'you're going to be fine gran, I'm taking chemo, you're going to lose your hair but it'll come back'."

After a year, the family decided to stop the specific chemotherapy and steroid treatment that affected Sarah's walking, after assurances from the doctor that it was very unlikely that Sarah's leukemia would come back.

Her brother Ryan, 11, went to Craighead Nursery, where Sarah attended at the time, to explain her illness to her classmates, letting them know she would be off school and would lose her hair.

Lynsey said: "I have always been honest with Ryan from the word go, and he has been amazing. I can't find the words for Ryan, he has been my rock."

Now Sarah, who enjoys dancing and even managed to get out on her bike when she couldn't walk, only has a slight limp, which should pass as she gets older.

Lynsey said: "Sarah's not ill at all now. If you were ever to meet Sarah, you would see that she has a limp.

"That's the only thing that Sarah's been left with, apart from that you would never know that she has had cancer."

Lynsey nominated Sarah for a Cancer Research UK Little Star award, after reading our story about Lewis Mahoney in October.

Five-year-old Lewis battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia for three years before getting the all clear.

The family is now backing the Cancer Research UK Little Stars Awards campaign, urging the public to help raise funds to help improve survival rates among children.

Lynsey said the doctors told her the cancer treatment had been successful and Sarah is now cancer-free, however, she will have tests and be monitored for the next five years.

Lynsey said: "I wanted her to see the importance of what she had done for the past two years.

The Cancer Research UK Little Star Award also recognises Sarah's 11-year-old brother Ryan, for the support he has given to his sister and his mum.

"Ryan took his prize into school with him the next day to show it off to his class

"It is something Sarah can have for the rest of her life and say 'this is what I got for fighting cancer'"

Not just Sarah but Ryan as well has coped so well.

"The two of them have been unbelievable. The way they have coped, Sarah, with trips to the hospital every week for treatment, and Ryan having to deal with me not being here as much.

"I have never had a complaint off my kids, never."

matty.sutton@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Health

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