Brave youngster Heather Smith has proved a huge inspiration to others during her two-year battle with cancer.
The 11-year-old and her family saw their lives turned upside down when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
But, despite gruelling chemotherapy treatment and regular stays in hospital, Heather refused to let life get her down and always faced her illness with a smile on her face.
Now, Heather, who is in remission, and her school friends at Hastings Hill Academy have raised more than £260 for the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s child cancer unit where she was cared for, by holding a fancy dress day.
Mum Michelle Smith, 46, from Thorney Close, said: “Heather had been poorly for about a week, really tired and could sleep the clock around.
“I took her to the walk-in clinic and from there she was referred straight to the emergency department and onto the RVI, where they dropped the bombshell she could have leukaemia.
I took her to the walk-in clinic and from there she was referred straight to the emergency department and onto the RVI, where they dropped the bombshell she could have leukaemia.Michelle Smith
“It was such an horrendous blow, I thought she would go to the walk-in and get some antibiotics or something and then the next minute she is seriously ill.
“It just completely turns your life around.”
Michelle, who is also a single mum to Laura-Jayne, 13, and six-year-old Stuart, said she is very proud of how Heather, who also has a range of special educational needs, has dealt with her illness.
The community staff nurse, said: “She missed so much school because she was so ill, but she always wanted to go in when she could. She took everything in her stride, even when her hair fell out.”
Heather said: “I made lots of friends at the hospital. My friends at school used to push me around in my wheelchair.”
Michelle said the next two years are the most critical for the return of the cancer. She said: “We just have to take each day as it comes and hope and pray that it doesn’t come back.”
Nicola Adamson, Heather’s teacher, said: “We are all so proud of Heather. She is so resilient and despite missing school has just come back and got on with things and she always has a smile on her face. She is a great example to the other children by how she has dealt with the whole thing.”
Heather’s sister, Laura-Jayne, a pupil at Sandhill View School, has also raised more than £1,700 for the hospital by doing a sponsored swim.
Michelle said: “Everyone involved with the unit is fantastic. They did so much for us and raising money is a way of repaying them.”