Whalley cancer survivor (19) celebrates ‘being alive’

Francesca Wheatley

Francesca Wheatley

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A grateful Whalley teenager who battled cancer is celebrating not only surviving, but simply “being alive”.

Francesca Wheatley has set herself 12 months of challenges to mark five years since being told she was cancer-free.

The 19-year-old, who lives in Woodlands Park, will embark on a different challenge every month from October 12th – her official five year clear date.

The brave teen will attempt a sky dive, an abseil and climb Ben Nevis – all to raise money for charity.

Francesca was just 14 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She underwent six extensive months of chemotherapy, seven weeks of daily radiotherapy and four operations. However, the determined former Clitheroe Royal Grammar School pupil did not let the illness get her down. Instead, she continued to work hard and sat her GCSE exams from an oncology ward while on a morphine drip and managed to achieve 11 GCSEs.

Francesca, who is studying social policy at the University of Birmingham, said: “I wanted to do something big to mark the milestone and celebrate it properly. It’s about recognising what has happened, but to also appreciate life and live it to the full.

“I sat down with my parents and we came up with this idea and we put together the list of challenges.

“Some are out of my comfort zone and others are some that I have always wanted to do.”

“One of the challenges is to graduate and that’s on the list because I made a real effort to continue with my education, despite how sick I was.

“I wanted to achieve everything that my peers were and I wanted to keep up with them because education is so important. For me that’s a really important event in 2016.”

Francesca is no stranger to fund-raising. She has held a number of fund-raising balls in the past few years raising thousands of pounds for CLIC Sargent – a charity supporting children and young people with cancer. Through CLIC Sargent she met three of her best friends Hayley, Ryan and Kim. Both Ryan and Kim died of cancer in 2012 and Hayley in 2013. Francesca organised the fund-raising ball in honour of her three “guardian angels”.

The teenager is also encouraging other cancer survivors to celebrate getting passed the five-year clear mark. She hopes to spread the word as far as she can and is encouraging people to use the hashtag #High5cancerfree