Whalley girl to carry Olympic Torch today

TORCH BEARER: Francesca Wheatley. (s)
TORCH BEARER: Francesca Wheatley. (s)

TEENAGE cancer survivor Francesca Wheatley will carry the Olympic torch today.

Francesca, of Woodland Park, Whalley, was nominated for the honour by her mum, Katherine, who said that being a torchbearer for the Olympics would “really be a dream come true” for her brave daughter.

Diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 14, Francesca endured an extensive regime of chemotherapy and had to travel two hours every day for seven weeks for radiotherapy.

She sat her module GCSEs on a children’s oncology ward, hooked to a drip, but managed to gain two A and two A* grades.

She also acted as a friend and mentor to two younger girls who were diagnosed after her.

Whilst still receiving treatment she also started a fund-raising campaign for Macmillan and Clic Sargent. She has given a talk to her school on the work of the charity and inspired others to help her raise money. Francesca has amazed her teachers and friends by her sheer determination to carry on living life to the full.

“Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is something that most teenagers don’t even contemplate and yet Francesca has taken it in her stride and been determined that it would not stop her from being a friend to many, a support to others receiving treatment and to raise awareness and funds for the charities she has had experience of,” said her proud mum.

“Growing up Francesca was a keen gymnast, gaining all her awards and was working towards her gold medal until a broken elbow, which has left restricted movement in her left arm, stopped her aged eight pursuing her love fully.”

Francesca, now 17 and in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, will carry the torch from Croston, near Chorley. She said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I feel honoured to have been chosen out of the many thousands nominated.”

Dad Steven (44), added: “Watching Francesca carrying the Olympic torch will be fantastically exciting and a very proud moment. She has come through everything with a positive attitude and a smile on her face.”

Currently studying for A-levels at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Sixth Form Centre, Francesca aims to pursue a career in charity work.