A London schoolgirl has died from a rare cancer after having her eye removed – despite being given the all-clear. Aleksandra Celic, 15, died at home in Orpington on November 3, six years after she was first diagnosed.
Her family has paid tribute to her as a “shy but loving girl”, MyLondon reported.
Aleksandra, known as “Alek” to family, was only seven in 2016 when she developed a lump in her eye which doctors said was “just a cyst”.
She went to her local GP complaining of a “lazy eye” and a lump behind her eye, which she had removed – but it kept coming back.
After her mum Dana Celic, 37, insisted on an MRI scan and a biopsy it revealed a diagnosis of chordoma cancer.
The cancer is very rare, with about 20 cases diagnosed in the UK each year. It is a slow-growing bone cancer that usually occurs in the spinal column and mostly commonly occurs in people between 40 and 60 years of age, more often in men than in women – making Alek’s case even rarer.
Alek underwent multiple treatments including having her eye socket removed, reconstructed from a bone in her leg to eventually having her entire eye removed.
Her mum told MyLondon: “When we actually told her eye needed to go. She took it really, really well. She took it better than we did, she was so brave.”
Having no eye led her to be bullied at school by other pupils, her mum added, which Alexandra found difficult to open up about, out of fear it would cause more worry for her family.
Alek was given the all-clear and as years went on the family remained hopeful that the worst was behind them.
But then in February 2021, after a routine check something was picked up on a scan. Doctors said they were not concerned and Alek went back six months later for another check-up. The mass on the scan had significantly grown. The chordoma cancer had returned.
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Alek had the majority of treatments available here in the UK but was told there was nothing more they could do. Alek passed away peacefully on November 3.
Mum Dana said: “She must have been so scared. When did they tell her that there was nothing they can do she asked, ‘am I going to die? They said yes. I think she was worried at first and then after, she was okay.
“Eventually she became bedbound and she lost feeling in her eyelids so we had to lift up her eyelid. She lost consciousness and was like that for about three days just breathing and coughing.
“On the day that she died. we managed to do some handprints of paint on a canvas with her sisters. And she had a big smile on her face. And then about 10 minutes, later she passed away.”
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Mum Dana said Alek had a loving family which includes Dad Milan, 39, and sisters Valentina, 12 and Angelia, 11. The family describe her as a ‘shy but loving girl’ who wanted to take care of everyone she met.
Dana added: “She’s shy when she meets new people, but once you got to know her, then she’s really fun. She’s really caring. So she would always help you if she saw you crying or anything.
“I don’t know if she had much of a childhood – it was just operations and hospital. But the whole time she was just so sweet, she would always say hello to people and she was just like that.”
The family are now fundraising for funeral costs with donations remaining given to chordoma cancer UK research. You can find their GoFundMe here.