TEN YEARS ago this week, a five-year-old girl from Wakefield was given an early Christmas present - the all clear from cancer.
Now 15, Aliscia Coe is celebrating a decade of cancer clear Christmases by helping to launch an awards scheme that recognises the courage of other children with cancer.
Lissy was just two years old when her mum Liz noticed the toddler had started to become very lethargic and a lot less lively than normal.
She said: “Lissy was sleeping all the time and had bruises and nose bleeds and couldn’t manage to walk properly. This went on for three weeks so I thought something must be wrong.”
It got so bad that Ms Coe rushed her to A&E at Pindersfields Hospital when she was put on oxygen and had a blood transfusion.
Doctors suspected leukaemia, and rushed her to St James’s Hospital in Leeds where, in a critical condition on the children’s cancer ward, she was eventually diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, the most common form of childhood leukaemia.
Chemotherapy took two and a half years and despite gruelling hospital stays, Lissy “took it in her stride”, even lifting her arm ready for the nurses when they came to take her blood in the middle of the night.
When she started to lose her hair, elder sister Chelsea, then six, was incredibly upset, as the two had a close bond, but the treatment worked, and four months after starting primary school on December 13, 2007, she was given the all clear.
Ms Coe marked the occasion with a specially made t-shirt for her to wear at school, proudly proclaiming the words ‘You can’t scare me – I beat cancer’.
Lissy was presented with a Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens Star Award - which the family are now backing to encourage anyone who knows a young person who has been diagnosed with cancer to nominate for the honour. They hope her story will “give hope” to the 140 children diagnosed with cancer each year in Yorkshire.
Ms Coe, 37, from Outwood, added: “Lissy wore her special t-shirt when she was presented with the Kids and Teens Star Award at her school assembly, in front of all her new friends and her sister too. I was so proud of her. It meant so much to me to see her to get the Award.
“She really deserved it for all what she went through. She loved the big Silver Star and kept getting it out to polish it and show off to her friends and family when they came round to the house.”
After receiving her Award in 2007, Lissy went on to support Cancer Research UK. She was the VIP guest to set off the runners at Pontefract Race for Life in 2008 and Wakefield in 2010, she appeared in a national Cancer Research UK TV ad campaign in 2009 and then in 2010 was the face of a Morrisions Christmas Gift Card, helping raise more money for the charity.
Lissy, who hopes to train as a nurse when she is older, said: “The nurses helped me when I wasn’t well, now I would like to help others, to be there and help save people’s lives, just like they did mine.”
The awards are open to all under-18s who currently have cancer or have been treated for the disease in the last five years.
All nominated children will receive a Silver Star trophy, £50 TK Maxx gift card, t-shirt and certificate signed by a host of famous faces including Emma Thompson and Peter Andre.
Nicki Embleton, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens in Yorkshire, said: “Our mission is to fund research to find new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire, and across the UK. We want to bring forward the day when no young person dies of the disease, and ensure that those who survive, like Aliscia, do so with a good quality of life.
“So we’re calling on people in the region to nominate inspirational youngsters for this year’s Star Awards so that we can recognise their incredible courage.”
To nominate a child for an award, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens