“My journey started when I was 5. I wasn’t aware of the battle in front of me and I played around without a care in the world. That was until 8 December 2004, the day I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and my whole childhood was taken away from me in a matter of days.
The first time, I knew I had to be strong for everyone. When I went into the scanner I clutched my favourite blanket and tried not to cry. The treatment was so powerful. The first thing I ate for weeks was a twister lolly because my sister had come to visit me and I wanted to make her smile. When I’d pull out my hair and pretend it was magic, to try and cheer my family up.
Five years passed and I thought it was over but on 14 December 2010 it came back. I called my sister and she asked if I was alright. I didn’t reply; all I said was: ‘It's back, I’m ill again’. She screamed down the phone and burst into tears. This made me cry, because I didn’t want to hear her cry.
This time a stem cell transplant was the best option. My mum wasn’t a match, my dad wasn’t, my sister wasn’t – but my brother was. He had such a big responsibility. He had to save his little sister’s life.
My recovery was long and painful and something that I’ll never forget. I’ll always be in debt to my brother, because he didn’t have to give me his bone marrow, but he did. I don’t think he’ll ever know how much I love him.
The third time, in 2011, I noticed a lump on my face. I had some tests and Dr Bob, who I’d known since I was 5, came and sat by my side and I could see he had a tear in his eye. It had come back for the third time.
I was on intensive care for two weeks drifting in and out of consciousness after some complications, but a few weeks later I got the all clear. The leukaemia had gone and now I just had to finish the battle – my doctors suggested another stem cell transplant, this time from an anonymous donor. I didn’t want another transplant because I knew how ill it made me feel, but then I thought it could be the only way to make me better for good. A new transplant date was set: Friday 13 April. The unluckiest day of the year; not for me anymore.
Including intensive care, the transplant and total body radiation I spent 96 nights in hospital. I got to go home on Saturday 26 May 2012. This time would be the last time and for me third time lucky. My name is Rebecca Alton. I am 15 years old and I have beaten cancer three times.”
Simon, Rebecca’s Dad, says:
“Rebecca is the most amazing person we’ve ever met, and we’re blessed to call her our daughter. Her fighting spirit is truly remarkable. It’s obviously tough … but we all always knew there was light at the end of the tunnel - and hopefully we’re finally there.”