A Luton schoolgirl, who is fighting leukaemia, is helping to launch a nationwide awards scheme that recognises the courage of children and young people with cancer.
Six-year-old Amelie Bowling was nominated by her parents, Darren and Charlotte, who said they were proud of how their little girl had coped since being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in June.
They are encouraging other families to nominate their stars for the honour in the run up to Christmas. The Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People Star Awards, supported by TK Maxx, celebrate the strength shown by youngsters who have been diagnosed with and treated for cancer.
Darren, Amelie’s dad, said: “She was quite poorly, vomiting and complaining of aches in her legs. Her teachers had also told us Amelie was finding it difficult to keep up in PE lessons and she was struggling with her dancing.
“It just seemed to go on and on and then one day she spiked a temperature that tipped 40 degrees and my wife called an ambulance.
“Amelie was taken to hospital and referred to the paediatric unit. As parents, we had that gut feeling that something wasn’t right, but had to wait for the results of two rounds and blood tests before they confirmed to us that Amelie had leukaemia. We were in hysterics and falling apart.”
Amelie underwent a blood transfusion at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital before being transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where they carried out a bone marrow biopsy. She spent the next three weeks in hospital undergoing the first phase of her chemotherapy treatment.
Darren added: “Eventually she was allowed back home and a new normality began for us. When she was well enough, Amelie would go into school and see her friends.
“But the family holiday had to be cancelled and now we spend our time going back and forth between the two hospitals for appointments, blood tests and treatment.”
Amelie, who attends Putteridge Primary School, is set to have her next round of treatment on Christmas Eve.
Darren said: “It’s been incredibly tough watching our little girl go through this, but she has amazed us all with her strength – she takes everything in her stride.
“As parents we had some very dark conversations in those early days, but you keep on going. We are so proud of how she has coped – she’s such a strong little character who has managed to keep her smile on her face even when things are getting her down.
“We are counting down the days until her treatment is finished in 2021 and Amelie’s focus is very much on the things we are going to do once this is behind her.”
The Star Awards are open to all under 18s who currently have cancer or have been treated for the disease in the last five years.
There is no judging panel for the awards because Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People believes every child diagnosed with cancer deserves special recognition.
Everyone nominated receives a trophy, £50 TK Maxx gift card, a t-shirt and certificate signed by a host of famous faces, including Nanny McPhee and Last Christmas star Dame Emma Thompson, This Morning’s Dr Ranj and children’s favourite entertainer Mister Maker. Their siblings also receive a certificate.
Jenny Makin, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People in the East of England, said: “Our Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, shine an important light on children and young people with cancer.
“We know that a cancer diagnosis is devastating at any age, but that it can be particularly difficult for a child or young person and their families.
“That’s why we’re calling on families across the region to nominate inspirational youngsters for an award, so that we can recognise their incredible courage.”
To nominate a child for an award, visit cruk.org/childrenandyoungpeople.