An eight-year-old girl whose little brother has battled cancer bravely cut off 14 inches of her hair last week to donate to the Little Princess Trust.
Katie-Leigh Nixon is also raising money for Keep Swimming YaYa Children’s Cancer Support.
The charity was set up in memory of the late Alexandra Johnston, who was affectionately known as ‘YaYa’, and who passed away in January last year just weeks after her 16th birthday.
Alexandra had battle Ewings Sarcoma for a number of years and following her death her parents set up the charity to support local families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer.
This charity is one that is very close to Katie-Leigh and her family’s hearts.
Katie-Leigh’s brother Caleb was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer which affects the retina, when he was just days old.
Caleb and indeed his whole family became extremely close to Alexandra and the Johnston’s throughout their journey.
Jacqueline, Katie-Leigh’s mum, had also been previously diagnosed with retinoblastoma.
She explained that this form of cancer is hereditary .
“Caleb was diagnosed but he didn’t have any tumours until he was eight weeks old,” she said.
Now three-years-old Caleb has had ten rounds of chemotherapy, including four rounds in Switzerland.
He has also had laser treatment and cryotherapy to treat the retinoblastoma.
“They don’t class Caleb as being in remission until he is five years clear,
“Retinoblastoma is so unpredictable and can come back at any time. At the minute he has been over a year without any regrowth,” Jacqueline said.
“He is checked every eight weeks. He has to be put to sleep to allow them to examine the eyes and if any treatment is required it can be done there and then. There are so many ways they can treat the tumours in the eyes.”
“We met Alexandra when Caleb had his first round of chemotherapy at nine weeks old and she became like another member of the family. Caleb was her ‘baby boy’ and they became very close.
“Our children are like extended members of the Johnston family and vice versa.”
Katie-Leigh was ‘so happy’ when Jacqueline suggested donating hair to the Little Princess Trust.
“Katie-Leigh was bald for the first three years of her life, so when her hair started to grow I just let it grow and grow. She will be making her first communion next year and it was time to get it cut, it needs badly pampered!” Jacqueline said.
“We had a wee chat and with all that Caleb and Alexandra went through I suggested it might be something nice to do.
“She loves her hair and she was so nervous about getting it done, but was so happy to do it knowing the hair was going to be used to make a wig for a child going through chemotherapy.
“She also wanted to help YaYa’s new charity, which is a massive part of our lives.”
Despite her initial nerves, Katie-Leigh’s hair cut was streamed live on social media and she loved the end result.