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Bells and bubbles as Suki, 7, kicks cancer

A seven-year-old cancer survivor from Wilts celebrated beating cancer surrounded by family and friends – including her ‘hospital bestie’ – at Royal United Hospitals (RUH) in Bath this week, ahead of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.

13 August 2019

Matilda Fisher, 6, & Suki Corbett, 7

Suki Corbett was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in January 2017 when she was just four years old. In the few months leading up to Suki’s diagnosis, GPs attributed the then four-year-old’s poor health to a virus. As her condition deteriorated, her parents, Rachel and Pete Corbett, consulted a paediatrician and eventually received the devastating news that their daughter had leukaemia.

Suki’s treatment included regular high-dose chemotherapy, blood and platelet transfusions and steroid medication. She suffered from weight loss and gain, constant nausea and vomiting and lost her hair as a result of the treatment. Her mother recalls birthdays and Christmases spent in hospital.

But yesterday Suki was happy and healthy, as she celebrated completing a gruelling two and a half years of treatment with her family and friends, by blowing bubbles and, most importantly, ringing the end of treatment bell three times to symbolise the end of her treatment for ALL.

“During the early weeks of Suki’s diagnosis, I can remember watching films of other children ring their bell, it felt a whole other world away, but a world we were so determined to get to,” Rachel Corbett said.

“Reaching the end of her treatment has been far more emotional than I ever anticipated and seeing Suki ring the bell is such a huge milestone for her, for us all. It is wonderful to see her beaming smile.”

Commenting on the support the family received throughout Suki’s treatment, Rachel said:

Over the past couple of years, Children with Cancer UK has helped fund research and development for the chemotherapy treatment Suki has received for her leukaemia. They’ve also provided us with memorable family days and special times with other oncology families – people we’re now proud to call our friends.
Suki’s doctors, nurses and all healthcare staff have been incredible throughout her treatment. It’s a world you never expect to be immersed in, but we’ve met some truly wonderful people.

Looking to the future, Rachel added: “It’s amazing to watch Suki grow in strength week on week since finishing treatment. We cannot wait to see her get involved in so many more activities now, and watch her grow into a strong and determined little lady.

“However, a lot of people do have the perception that once treatment finishes, and a child has their last dose of chemotherapy, that that’s it and you can get on with life. But we now have to deal with a new norm. Suki has been really affected, both physically and mentally, and will have ongoing side-effects from the treatment for the rest of her life.

“While our life has changed forever since dealing with childhood cancer, one thing is for sure we are determined to enjoy every precious moment.”

And what did Suki have to say about her treatment, ringing the bell, and her hopes for the future?

It was horrid having the medicine but the doctors and mummy and daddy kept saying if you have it, it’ll make you better, and it has, and now I’ve finally rung the bell and finished treatment.

Today I’m so joyful, happy and excited. And when I grow up I want to be a doctor…I just think they are amazing, she said.

Hospital best friend Matilda Fisher, 6, who underwent ALL treatment side-by-side with Suki also joined in on the celebrations.

“Matilda is my really special friend and she came to watch me ring the bell – we’ve both had leukaemia and we both understand what we’ve been through – other friends might not know what it’s been like and that’s why it’s so special,” Suki said.