Sunderland woman who beat cancer makes heartfelt appeal for new wheelchair after car arson attack destroyed vital lifeline
A Sunderland woman, who was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in her spine when she was a teenager, is fundraising for a new wheelchair after hers was destroyed in a suspected senseless arson attack.
Alex Mills’ wheelchair was in the boot of her car which was torched in a suspected arson attack in Grangetown.
Several cars were targeted in the same area earlier this month and Alex’s wheelchair was destroyed in the blaze.
Now Alex, who was just 17-years-old when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma bone cancer, is appealing for funds to buy a replacement wheelchair.
More than £300 has already been donated after the University of Sunderland student set up a Go Fund Me page.
Alex, who was visiting a friend’s house when her car set alight in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, said: “The car next to mine was set on fire and it spread to the back of mine. My wheelchair was in the boot and has been completely destroyed.
“When I saw the fire I just started to panic.”
After a long journey Alex, now aged 22, is able to walk with crutches but relies on a wheelchair whenever she leaves the house.
The student underwent emergency spinal surgery when the tumour was discovered on her spine when she was 17-years-old, before going through 14 rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy.
She said: “I’m 22 now but when I was 17 I was diagnosed with cancer.
“I had physiotherapy everyday I was in hospital, I was in hospital for nine months, slowly learning to walk again.
“I’ve moved from big walking equipment to a frame then eventually crutches which is where I’m at now.
“My walking won’t get much better I can only get stronger.
“I can manage getting around the house but I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end of the street.
“I need a wheelchair to get about and I’m about to head back to university after the Christmas break.”
Sunderland City Council provides a wheelchair that is fit for purpose but Alex, who has been in remission from cancer for over four years, has to pay the extra money for a light-weight wheelchair.
“To get a wheelchair that is lightweight and isn’t bulky I have to provide the difference in cost,” said Alex.
“I need to get fitted for a new one. It's just going to take a while to get a wheelchair sorted. They can range in price with anything from £1,500 to £5,000.”
Before the arson attack, the chemistry student had only had her specialised mobility car for a year and a half.
Thankfully, Motability, a charity which provides cars for disabled people, were able to provide a courtesy car hours after the blaze and Alex says she has nothing but praise for the organisation.
Alex has also thanked her ‘guardian angel’ who brought her a wheelchair to use after seeing her story on social media.
The former Southmoor Academy student said: “There was a lovely bloke from the community who saw what happened on Facebook. He came by and dropped off a wheelchair for me to use. I can’t thank him enough for that.”
To donate to the fund click here.
A police investigation into the car fires is ongoing.