Brave Bethany leads search for other Little Stars

A SUFFOLK schoolgirl who received a national charity award for her courageous battle against cancer is appealing for more young cancer patients in the region to be nominated as 'Little Stars' in the run up to Christmas.

Jonathan Schofield

A SUFFOLK schoolgirl who received a national charity award for her courageous battle against cancer is appealing for more young cancer patients in the region to be nominated as 'Little Stars' in the run up to Christmas.

Six-year-old Bethany Way from Mildenhall had her courage recognised by Cancer Research UK in last year's Little Star awards sponsored by TK Maxx.

In addition to the trophy Bethany received a certificate signed by Leona Lewis and Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt.

Bethany was three years old when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

She spent so long in hospital beds undergoing treatment and fighting infections that she lost the use of her legs and had to learn to walk all over again.

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Now the sparkling six-year-old is in remission and is able to enjoy normal playground fun with her friends at St Mary's primary school in Mildenhall.

Bethany's mum, Vashti Way, said: “Bethany was a true superstar during the two years of chemotherapy that saved her life. Her strong spirit helped her get through the tough times.

“She still has regular hospital appointments, as well as ongoing physiotherapy because of the muscle loss she experienced when she was so ill, but it has been wonderful to watch her getting her strength and sparkle back.”

Mrs Way first noticed there was something wrong with Bethany in March 2006, only weeks after giving birth to Bethany's baby brother, Daniel. The toddler “lost her enthusiasm for life” and began complaining of pain in her knees.

After several trips to the GP Bethany was given a blood test which confirmed the devastating news.

Mrs Way immediately cancelled her plans to return to work as an administrative assistant at RAF Lakenheath, and her husband Alan, a toolmaker at Birchalls, had to take several weeks off work to help cope with the upheaval.

“Despite all this, Bethany was so brave and accepting during her lengthy treatment. She showed great determination in doing her exercises and learning to walk again. When she took her first steps she just couldn't stop smiling - I've never seen her so happy.”

Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK's spokesperson for Suffolk, said: “Bethany is a true 'Little Star' who richly deserves this accolade. We hope her story will encourage people to nominate other brave children with cancer for this year's Little Star awards.”

Panel:

- Cancer is the most common cause of death from illness in children aged between one and 14. Each year, about 1,500 children in the UK are diagnosed with the disease - that is around one in every 500.

- In the 1960s around a quarter of children with cancer survived, whereas today three quarters survive.

- Cancer Research UK is inviting anyone who knows other brave under-18s battling cancer, or have undergone treatment in the past five years to nominate them for a Little Star Award.

- Other celebrities backing the awards include Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity and Tracey Beaker actress Dani Harmer.

To nominate a Little Star email littlestar@cancer.org.uk or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/littlestar . Alternatively, telephone 0113 203 2440.