'Little fighter' diagnosed with leukaemia at just two weeks old

Amelia Topa from Aberdeenshire will feature on posters for Childhood Cancer Awareness month this September.

Brave Aberdeen girl stars in new appeal for Cancer Research UK after surviving leukaemia as a baby Cancer Research UK

A young cancer survivor who was diagnosed with leukaemia at just two weeks old has become the face of a nationwide campaign for Cancer Research UK.

Amelia Topa from Turiff in Aberdeenshire was chosen to featuring in a poster that will be displayed in the charity’s shop windows.

The brave youngster, now five, is shown in the poster being lifted in the air by her dad Igor Topa.

Little Amelia was diagnosed with leukaemia days after birth and spent her first Christmas in hospital, starting the first of four rounds of chemotherapy.

Amelia with dad Igor Topa.Cancer Research UK

Mum Kerri Paton recalls the moment their lives were turned upside down just hours after Amelia was born on November 27, 2017.

“Being told your child has cancer is the worst sentence any parent could ever hear,” she said.

“I felt mad at first that someone so tiny should have to go through this horrible disease.

“But Amelia has been a little fighter from the day she was born.

“I have felt amazed by her strength and lucky to have good support from friends, family and hospital staff.”

Doctors said that raised purple spots across Amelia’s body could be a sign of something seriously wrong and she was soon diagnosed with cancer.

The family were told that Amelia’s best chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant using stem cells.

A match was found in a man aged between 16 and 30, and the transplant went ahead in June 2018.

Ms Paton said the family would be “forever grateful” to the man behind the stem calls that saved Amelia’s life.

Amelia recovered well with tests showing that the transplant had worked.

By autumn 2018, Amelia was well enough to go home, and Ms Paton soon gave birth to her second child on October 30.

However, tragedy struck on February 11, 2019, when tests showed that Amelia’s cancer had come back.

Doctors were initially uncertain anything could be done but suggested a second stem cell transplant, this time using cells from umbilical cord blood.

Amelia had intense chemotherapy in an isolation room before she was ready for her second transplant at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Her transplant went ahead on June 28, 2019, exactly one year after her first.

Ms Paton said they couldn’t be “prouder” of their daughter, adding: “Amelia soared through the transplant and she’s doing really well now.

“I hope Amelia’s story will help other families going through cancer.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” she added.

Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, Lisa Adams, said: “We’re grateful to Amelia’s family for their support.

“Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects survivors often experience.

“So, it needs different, dedicated research, that we’re grateful to people across Scotland for helping to fund,” she said.

Childhood cancer survival rates in the UK have more than doubled since the 1970s when almost four in ten children would survive for at least ten years.

Supporters can help save lives by picking up a gold ribbon badge, the symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, while stocks last.

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