Sunderland schoolgirl on the road to recovery after two-year cancer treatment

Beth McCaffrey, of Broadsheath Terrace, Southwick, Sunderland, pictured with her mum Karen.
Beth McCaffrey, of Broadsheath Terrace, Southwick, Sunderland, pictured with her mum Karen.
Have your say

BRAVE Beth McCaffrey is all smiles as she nears the end of her gruelling two-year cancer treatment.

The courageous youngster’s family was left stunned when she was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2011 and told by doctors she needed 27 months of punishing chemotherapy.

But the six-year-old, from Southwick, refused to let her condition get her down and was hailed a heroine by proud parents John, 52, and Karen.

Now, as her arduous treatment comes to an end, Beth is well on the road to recovery and preparing to take on the 1.5km BUPA Mini Great North Run, held ahead of the second largest half marathon in the world, next month.

Karen, 42, said: “She has done fantastic. Her treatment comes to an end on September 17, a few days after the run, and it has gone really well. We’re all so proud of her.”

Despite her life-threatening illness and exhausting treatment schedule, Beth regularly attended lessons and after-school activities at English Martyrs School, in Marley Pots.

“She had a 68 per cent attendance record at school,” said Karen.

“She just wanted to get on with things. She never wanted her condition to make a difference.”

Beth was diagnosed two years ago after experiencing pain in her hip.

Subsequent blood tests revealed that she had developed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

“Beth was diagnosed 10 days after we’d got back from holiday,” said Karen.

“She’d had no symptoms other than a sore hip. She went to nursery as usual, but the pain got worse and she developed a high temperature.

“We went to the GP and were sent for blood tests at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“At this stage the doctors weren’t overly concerned and the blood tests seemed normal.

“Beth was sent home after a night in for observation, but I still felt something was wrong.

“The next day we got a call and were asked to come back in - I just knew then it was leukaemia.

“Blast cells had been found on the blood film, a strong indicator of leukaemia.”

Beth was started on a course of chemotherapy which included being given the medicine every day at home, every month through a port in her chest and every three months in her spine, coupled with fortnightly visits to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The youngster had been in remission since eight days into the chemotherapy, but she had to continue with the full 27 months of treatment as a precautionary measure.

“Beth needed two intensive blocks of chemotherapy, followed by maintenance therapy,” said Karen.

“When we found out that there would be over two years of treatment, I thought Beth wouldn’t be able to do anything during that time, but she’s coped so well.

“She’s managed to attend the majority of her first year at school and she is doing well in all her classes.

“She’s very active and loves PE and swimming.

“When I mentioned the Great North Run to Beth, she really wanted to do it and raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.”

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is the official charity of the BUPA Junior and Mini Great North Runs, which take place in Newcastle on Saturday, September 14, the day before the adult race.

To sponsor Beth, visit