A Derry teenager who is battling cancer in four parts of her body believes meeting her idol Harry Styles from the band One Direction will make her stronger.
Fourteen-years-old Alexandra Johnston, a pupil at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s in Claudy, is currently battling Ewing’s Sarcoma for the second time.
She was first diagnosed in August 2013, aged just eleven. Doctors at that stage told Alexandra’s parents Andre and Karen that their daughter had a tumour the full size of her leg.
By then, cancer was also affecting her spine, the back of her skull and her lungs.
While Alexandra had been told she was cancer free a year and a half ago, in March of this year, she was given the heartbreaking news that the cancer had returned.
“It was devastating. Especially after she had been 18 months cancer free.” Alexandra’s father Andre told the ‘Journal,’ this week.
“In February the pain came back in Alexandra’s elbow but it went away again but it was decided to do a biopsy. We were then told that the cancer had come back. This time it’s in Alexandra’s pelvis, her femur, her spine and her elbow. She had her first chemotherapy of this year on March 31.”
Alexandra is still receiving treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
With the news that her cancer had returned, friends and family have started a campaign to attract the attention of One Direction members Harry Styles and Niall Horan.
In the summer of 2014, the Derry teenager was a special guest at the One Direction concert at Croke Park.
At that point she took part in a meet and greet with band members organised by the Rays of Sunshine charity which helps grant the wishes of children who are living with serious or life-limiting illnesses.
“Alexandra honestly believes that whole experience gave her strength and contributed to her recovery,” said Andre this week.
“She got so much from it and believes that any wee message from either Harry or Niall would help her fight this battle she’s going through at the moment.
“ Listening to One Direction and watching their videos takes her away from the physical pain that she is going through.”
Andre said that despite what she has faced he and his family and Alexandra’s four siblings are proud of how she has coped.
“She is coping really well and taking each day as it comes. She also had problems with her gall bladder so that was quite a painful thing to deal with as well.”
Speaking about the major Facebook and Twitter campaign launched on Alexandra’s behalf, her father said.
“It would be an unbelievable boost if we could get even get a video message from one of the band members.
“So far, we’ve had messages from fans all around the world and the support has been fantastic. Just the other day Alexandra received a lovely poem and people send well wishes every day.
“All of that is a help because it’s a distraction for Alexandra from everything else that is going on. We’re really grateful to everyone who has sent messages of support so far and to everyone who has helped us and Alexandra in any way throughout her illness. It really is appreciated.”