A schoolgirl has died of a rare cancer that doctors thought had gone when they removed her eye, and eventually even her leg – but that kept returning. Aleksandra Celic, 15, died peacefully at home on November 3 following a six-year battle to keep her alive. The young girl from Orpington, south east London, was just seven when she began to feel the lump in her eye that would be the first sign of the rare cancer, and which doctors initially dismissed as “just a cyst.”
“Caring” Aleksandra, known as “Alek” to her family, visited her local Bromley GP complaining of a “lazy eye” and a lump behind her eye.
The lump was removed – but, reported MyLondon, it kept returning. Her mother Dana Celic, 37, insisted on an MRI scan and a biopsy.
The results confirmed their worst fears – Aleksandra had chordoma cancer.
An extremely rare form of cancer, chordoma affects roughly 20 people in the UK every year – or one in every 800,000, according to the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
The slow-growing disease invades the bones of those who suffer from it, and is reportedly difficult for doctors to identify. It also primarily affects men aged between 40 and 60 – making Aleksandra’s diagnosis all the more rare.
Aleksandra underwent multiple life-changing treatments, the first of which involved having her eye socket removed and reconstructed from a bone in her leg, before eventually, she needed to have her entire eye taken out.
Dana said of her daughter: “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.”
Aleksandra faced bullying in school by other pupils, her mum said. However, the young girl found it difficult to open up about it, for fear of causing her family any more worry.
Dana said Alek had a loving family, which includes Dad Milan, 39, and sisters Valentina, 12 and Angelia, 11. The family described 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.”
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Dana said: “She must have been so scared. When they told 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.”
The family are now fundraising for funeral costs, with any donations remaining given to chordoma cancer UK research. You can find the GoFundMe here.