Teenager is a Little Star after cancer battle

THE courage of a teenager who was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 12 has been recognised with a special award.

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Charlotte Banks, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphona when she was 12, was nominated for a Little Star by her aunt Claire
Charlotte Banks, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphona when she was 12, was nominated for a Little Star by her aunt Claire

Charlotte Banks, now 15, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in March 2011.

Now, Charlotte has received a special trophy for the bravery she showed throughout her treatment.

Cancer Research UK's Little Star Awards acknowledge the challenges faced by youngsters who are diagnosed with cancer.

Charlotte's aunt, Claire Banks, nominated her for the award.

Charlotte, a Calderglen High School pupil, said: "I received my Little Stars Award after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"At times during treatment I felt quite isolated, so I was overwhelmed when my award came through the post.

"It was really touching that someone thought I was deserving of the award and I will continue to share my experiences with other young people facing the battle."

Parents Derek, 47, an accountant, and Alison said that the whole family is proud of Charlotte who has recently taken time out to mentor other young people with cancer.

Alison, 46, a business analyst, said: "When Charlotte was diagnosed with cancer, she was naturally very upset.

"It took a while for the news of the diagnosis to sink in and, at first, Charlotte didn't want to tell friends.

"But the hospital put Charlotte in touch with a teenager who was having cancer treatment and she found that very helpful.

"So when Charlotte was asked to do something similar for a young lady who had just been diagnosed with cancer she was only too happy to help."

Charlotte was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma after a lump appeared on her collar bone.

She was immediately referred to Yorkhill Hospital where a surgeon performed a biopsy.

In the weeks that followed, Charlotte started chemotherapy, which she received at Yorkhill as an outpatient over the next two months.

She also visited the hospital every month for a year so doctors could keep a close eye on her progress.

Charlotte was also enrolled on a Cancer Research UK trial aimed at improving treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

After her last round of chemotherapy, in June 2012, Charlotte became ill with a high temperature and had to spend a week on an isolation ward until she felt better.

It meant the family delayed the start of a holiday to Arran where the family regularly stay on a farm, in case she became ill and had to be airlifted home for treatment.

Charlotte wants to be a vet and loves spending time with the animals at the farm in Arran. She is also a keen horse rider.

Since finishing treatment, Charlotte's health has been going from strength to strength and she is enjoying being back at school with her friends.

The talented teenager has also been busy selling the jewellery she makes to raise funds for Yorkhill's cancer ward, as well as playing netball, taking part in fencing and violin classes.

Alison added: "It's great to see Charlotte getting back on her feet and slowly getting her confidence back.

"She's such a clever young lady and she loves spending time with her friends."

Hodgkin's lymphoma affects the lymph nodes and lymphatic system, which are important in helping to fight infection.

Hodgkin's lymphoma is rare in young children but becomes more common in teenagers and young adults.

Around 70 children are diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma each year in Britain.

Cancer Research UK helped improve survival rates for Hodgkin's lymphoma and now more than 9 in 10 children are cured.

Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK's spokeswoman in Scotland, said: "Charlotte is a true Little Star who richly deserves this accolade.

"We hope to acknowledge the bravery of many more children across Scotland and are encouraging family and friends to get nominating now."

The charity's work is wide-ranging, from investigating the causes of children's cancers and finding new ways to diagnose it, to developing better and kinder treatments.

Yorkhill is one of 21 centres across the UK and Ireland taking part in groundbreaking research coordinated by Cancer Research UK's Children's Cancer Trials Team. These trials make innovative new treatments available to children with cancer in Glasgow.

Now the charity is calling on the public to show their support for children with the disease by nominating a Little Star or donating to help more children survive.

Each and every child nominated receives the accolade.

There is no judging panel because Cancer Research UK, and TK Maxx, which sponsors the awards, believe all children who faces cancer are special.

The Little Star Awards are open to all under-18s who have cancer or who have been treated for the disease in the last five years.

Siblings of Little Stars also receive a special certificate in recognition of the support they give.

To nominate a Little Star visit cruk.org/littlestar

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