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Skipton Girls' High School pupil Francesca Haigh highlights work of Bone Cancer Research Trust
11:00am Sunday 14th October 2012 in News
A 13-year-old pupil at Skipton Girls’ High School has spoken of her battle against bone cancer to highlight the lack of awareness and understanding of the disease.
More than 450 people – mainly children and young adults – are diagnosed with primary bone cancer each year and only around half of those diagnosed will survive the next five years.
Unlike other cancers, survival rates among primary bone cancer sufferers haven’t improved in the past 20 years and, to highlight the need for further research into potentially life-saving treatments, the Bone Cancer Research Trust runs Bone Cancer Awareness Week, which started on Saturday.
Francesca Haigh was inspired to speak out after losing her friend Zack to the disease last year. Since then she has raised £2,500 for the trust and raised awareness by speaking about her illness in school, being awarded a Princess Diana Courageous Citizen Award for her efforts.
Francesca was a happy and healthy seven-year-old when she started getting pains in her left leg. It was devastating for her family to find out that what they thought were growing pains was actually osteosarcoma.
The treatment that followed included eight months of chemotherapy and surgery to replace her knee and half her femur with a titanium rod.
“I was part bionic woman, which made me smile,” said Francesca, who had her treatment alongside Zack.
“Zack always found time to make people aware of this awful disease and raise money at the same time, so I thought, why can’t I? I can carry on his spirit and make him proud,” said Francesca, who lives in Cullingworth.
Since then Francesca has given presentations at Skipton Girls’ High School and baked hundreds of gingerbread biscuits to raise money. Outside school she has set up a cupcake business called Delicate Delights which donates to the Bone Cancer Research Trust every year. She has also spoken at the trust’s national conference in Oxford.
Her next fundraising idea is to organise a concert in Skipton and she is in discussions with the council. “I hope people who have read this realise how amazing the Bone Cancer Research Trust are and how important they are to me and my family, and also to other families and children who have been affected with this awful disease. I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Francesca.
“With everyone’s help I hope we can beat cancer.”
Francesca’s dad, Christopher Burke, 38, added: “The treatment was hard on Fancesca, but she never let it get her down.
“We are so fortunate and grateful that the treatment was successful as the mortality rates for this condition are very bad.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to all the medical staff that have, and continue to, look after Francesca.
“She still faces further surgery in the upcoming years, but hopefully the future will be much brighter for us.”
For information about the trust, visit bcrt.org.uk.