Tributes to brave cancer victim, 14

AN INSPIRATIONAL 14-year-old who died from a cancer almost unheard of in children remained a “bright spark” in the face of the advancing disease, her grieving family said last night.

Will Clarke

AN INSPIRATIONAL 14-year-old who died from a cancer almost unheard of in children remained a “bright spark” in the face of the advancing disease, her grieving family said last night.

Maggie Vale was found to have a stomach cancer and told she had only months to live just before last Christmas but her mother yesterday paid tribute to the “strong” teenager who bore her terrible condition with bravery until her death last month.

Donna Vale said she would always remember an enthusiastic and bright girl who was cut down by cancer before she had a chance to fulfil her dreams.


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Mrs Vale said: “She had trouble eating and we thought it was indigestion at first but we were told it was stomach cancer on December 17.

“It was only the second case of stomach cancer in a child in the UK and we were told it was terminal on Christmas Eve. It was a shock for everybody but she handled it very well. We had to cope and we just got on with it.

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“Maggie went in for chemotherapy and we hoped the doctors had got it wrong. The treatment made her pretty sick but it gave us an extra six months together.

“She was very artistic and she took some beautiful pictures. She was also very interested in computers and design. All the time she was bright and cheerful with a lovely personality. It was hard for us but we had to be strong for her. Her sister Charlotte has just turned 13 and she is coping like the rest of us and we are really missing her.”

Maggie's father, John, led the tributes at the teenager's funeral near the family home in Birdbrook, between Sudbury and Haverhill.

“Maggie was a creative, sassy, generous, brave and beautiful life force,” said Mr Vale, 49.

“She was not cowed and fought an impossible fight with such courage and bravery that any who witnessed it could be nothing but humbled, facing all the horrors of her illness with a down to earth practicality and great sense of humour. Throughout it all humour was never far from her.

“Maggie was such a brave and beautiful person our lives are the richer for having known her, even if it was for too short a time.”

Lisa Goodridge-Hughes, who taught the 14-year-old at Hedingham School, said: “(She was) a talented artist even in year eight, when it was clear that she had outgrown her peers and was producing artwork of GCSE standard already. This love of art continued and we are delighted to have a small part of Maggie's art on our wall at school.

“Technology and drama lessons were also an opportunity for her to shine - from tie-dying to being a tree, Maggie could be creative and make everyone laugh. She was an inspiration, loved by her friends and staff at school.”

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