'˜I beat cancer and bullies so now I want to help others'
A brave local schoolgirl who was left with a scar on her left shoulder after suffering from skin cancer, is to cut her beautiful long hair to help raise money for charity.
Twelve years-old Sarah-Jane Carten grew her hair long to cover her scar after surgeons had to twice remove a cancerous lump from her left shoulder.
But now she’s decided to cut her hair to raise money for local charity Jamie’s Journie.
And mum Nicole couldn’t be more proud of her daughter, who she said has had to endure so much in her young life, fighting not only cancer, but bullying.
“We first saw the lump in 2011,” she said. “We took Sarah Jane to see a consultant privately. We were told it was a cyst and it would be better to leave it alone.”
She revealed how in the following years Sarah Jane became a victim of bullying behaviour, but despite everything always tried her best at school.
“Sarah Jane suffered from a perforated appendix,” explained mum Nicole.
“But she still insisted that she would sit her five transfer tests even though it was so soon after the surgery and she was suffering a wound infection from the surgery.”
The family decided to have the lump on Sarah Jane’s shoulder looked at again. Surgeons decided that it was best for the lump to be removed. The family were then dealt the devastating news that the lump was malignant.
However mum Nicole who is a nurse, was concerned when Sarah-Jane started experiencing nose bleeds and when the lump on the shoulder re-appeared.
“The decision was taken to remove more of the lump,” she said. “But in spite of all this Sarah-Jane kept going, she is a girl who doesn’t lie under anything. The day after surgery she sat her exams.”
Sarah-Jane now holds the unenviable title of being the youngest child in Europe to suffer from skin cancer.
The local girl who lives just outside Limavady is now undergoing a number of tests to determine what may have caused the cancer, and medics are keeping a close eye on her to ensure it doesn’t reappear.
Sarah-Jane said the experience has totally changed her outlook on life.
“I do swimming,” she said. “And after the surgery I was really conscious of the mark on my shoulder so I grew my hair long. But now I have decided that I want to give something back. All the money raised when Sarah-Jane has her hair cut will be given to Jamie’s Journey. I have met other children now who have had cancer and many of them have had to have chemotherapy but I know how lucky I am that I haven’t had to have chemo.”
Mum Nicole said Jamie’s Journey is an “amazing organisation.”
“As a family we are very grateful for all they have done for us all,” she said. “I knew that Jamie’s Journey would give her a real insight, and that Sarah-Jane would see there are some really sick children out there. Jamie’s mum Trisha has been so welcoming. “We’ve taken part in a lot of their fundraising activities and we were at their super hero walk.”
Sarah-Jane, who loves being a Year 8 pupil at Lumen Christi College in Derry, says when her hair is cut on June 24, she won’t be afraid of people seeing her scar.
“Life is for living,” she said, revealing that she has written her own ‘to do’ list for growing up. I want to become a doctor,” she said. “My whole experience has inspired me to try and become a doctor.”
To donate to Sarah-Jane’s Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, log on to https://www.gofundme.com/23dek6c