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Teenager to support charities which helped her through cancer treatment

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 April 2017

Hannah and her mum Diana with the Beads of Courage.

Hannah and her mum Diana with the Beads of Courage.

Archant

A teenager recovering from bone cancer is determined to raise awareness of her rare condition and boost funds for the charities which supported her.

Hannah's friends taking part in a fundraising walk around the Ty Sculpture Trail. Hannah's friends taking part in a fundraising walk around the Ty Sculpture Trail.

Hannah Nicoll, from Nailsea, thought she had pulled a muscle when she experienced pain in her shoulder in March last year.

She visited her GP but was sent away twice before they sent her for extra tests at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Hannah, aged 15, said: “We thought it was a pulled muscle. I had a sore arm, but I didn’t feel ill and I wasn’t sick. It just got more and more painful and my shoulder became more impaired.

“I went to the GP, but because I hadn’t had the pain for six weeks, nothing happened. When I went the second time I was told to go back in a week.

Hannah's friends taking part in a walk to raise money for the Beads of Courage. Hannah's friends taking part in a walk to raise money for the Beads of Courage.

“As soon as we went to Bristol Children’s Hospital they knew something was wrong. I had an ultrasound and a X-ray in the same day and an MRI. Then the following week I had to go to Birmingham to have a bone biopsy.”

Hannah was told she had osteosarcoma in July and she began a course of chemotherapy in August.

The cancer usually develops in growing bones and is most common in teenagers and young adults.

Hannah said: “It’s difficult to realise it’s something sinister rather than just a muscle strain or growing pains because it really hits teenagers and children.

“I want to raise awareness of childhood cancer and encourage anyone with symptoms to go to a doctor and insist you get a scan. The quicker you get a diagnosis, the better your chances are of survival and of it not spreading.”

Hannah, who attends Nailsea School, had an operation to remove the infected bone in November and has been given a prosthesis which will enable her to carry out 60 per cent of every day activities including writing and driving.

She has finished chemotherapy and is expected to make a full recovery, although she will be given regular checks for the next five years to make sure it does not return.

One of the charities which was a great help to Hannah through her treatment was the Beads of Courage.

The charity donates glass beads to children after difficult challenges such as blood transfusions, physiotherapy and overnight hospital stays.

Hannah’s mum Diana said: “When Hannah was really ill in hospital, we’d get the beads out and see what she’d done and how she’d come out the other side and it was quite extraordinary how powerful they were.

“I think it helps you to process what’s going on because the potential for post traumatic stress after getting the diagnosis and the grind of the treatment is very high.”

Hannah, who wants to become a medical researcher, is now planning to raise money for the charity so more seriously ill children can have access to the beads.

She also wants to fundraise for CLIC Sargent, the Teenage Cancer Trust, Sarcoma UK, and Bristol Children’s Hospital’s charity Above and Beyond.

She said: “Only 40 per cent of children in the UK have access to the beads so we are trying to get them out to everyone.

“Ward 35 and all the staff at the children’s hospital were wonderful - CLIC funds a lot of specialist nurses and support workers there and the Teenage Cancer Trust helps to pay for the ward.

“Sarcoma UK carries out research and raises awareness and Above and Beyond come round in the hospital to do activities with children when they are well enough. I want to raise money for them all.”

Hannah’s friends have already raised £2,900 for the Beads of Courage with a sponsored walk around the Ty Sculpture Trail. They have also organised a barn dance at Nailsea School on June 16 at 6pm.

Tickets, priced £6 for adults and £4 for under 18s, are available from nailseapta@nailseaschool.com or from the school reception.

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