A daughter who lost her loving dad to cancer has spoken of her own battle to overcome the killer illness which has almost claimed her life.
Stephen Bottoms tragically lost his life almost five years ago to the eye cancer condition known as ocula melanoma.
The builder had discovered a melanoma in his eye, which he later had to have removed.
Sadly, ocular melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. The melanoma later moved to his liver and the aggressive nature of the illness meant he passed away.
Now, his daughter Emma, 37, is also fighting cancer in the form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), of which about 650 people are diagnosed with in the UK each year.
Half of all cases diagnosed are in adults and half in children.
Emma, who is in the middle of chemotherapy treatment to combat the illness, is confident that she can overcome the condition, which sees large numbers of white blood cells, which fight infection, released into the blood before they are ready.
These are known as blast cells.
“I was 35 at the time I found out I had ALL,” said the Virgin Money worker, of Usworth, in Washington.
“I was starting to get headaches but I put that down to working too hard.
“I went to the local GP for blood tests but then I was sent to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where I found out I had ALL.
“Doctors said I had to start treatment straight away and I was admitted for five weeks before going on to nine months of intensive chemotherapy.
“It all ended up being quite tough.”
At one point Emma’s condition deteriorated suddenly.
She added: “My family didn’t know if I would make it through.
“I was two stone lighter and got an infection, which caused sepsis.
“I had to be put into an induced coma.
“Things were very tough but I managed to get through it.”
Emma now has to have chemotherapy on an oral basis until next year, but admitted that “the signs are good”.
She had also spoken of the immense toll the last few years have taken on the family, which includes her mum Lilian, 62, sister Suzanne, 31, step-sisters Felicity, 39, and Francesca, 37, as well as her boyfriend Nathan, 33.
“For my mam in particular it’s been hard because she’s had to deal with losing my dad and was still adjusting to life without him when I was diagnosed,” said Emma.
“Nathan has been with me since the day I was diagnosed and it’s meant a massive change for him, having to look after me.
“We don’t get to go out much and we probably won’t be able to have a holiday until 2019.”
Emma and her family have also expressed gratitude to those who have helped with her treatment.
“I’m grateful every day for the support that I’ve had around me,” she said.
“Knowing what the outcome for my dad was, it’s been very hard.
“But the doctors are really pleased with how things are going.
“I’m lucky to have the Freeman and the amazing people who work there on my doorstep. That has been quite comforting.”