Hero’s welcome for cancer fighter Alex as she goes back to school

INSPIRATIONAL teenager Alex Turner was given a hero’s welcome as she returned to school after completing her cancer treatment – and raising £30,000 for charity.

The 15-year-old, of Westoe Road, South Shields, was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in October and pledged to raise cash for the Teenage Cancer Trust while she underwent treatment.

She finished her radiotherapy and chemotherapy in January and is now back at St Wilfrid’s RC College, South Shields.

Yesterday, 1,200 pupils and staff members of St Wilfrid’s took part in a balloon release to celebrate her accomplishments.

She said: “It was quite emotional because I kind of imagined the balloons as being my cancer, so I kind of just let it go, and that was it, so it was emotional.

“But it was good to know that everyone was supporting me and raising money as well.”

SPECIAL DAY ... fundraising teenager Alex Turner says she thought of the balloon release in her honour at St Wilfrid's RC College as a 'letting go' of her cancer.

SPECIAL DAY ... fundraising teenager Alex Turner says she thought of the balloon release in her honour at St Wilfrid's RC College as a 'letting go' of her cancer.

“I love being back at school, I’m here every day. I was only meant to be doing an hour for three days and I’m back every day for at least three hours. I’m glad to be back.”

The cancer, which develops inside the voicebox, affects just one in every 100,000 people and is rare in those under 40.

Doctors said she would face six to nine months of recovery but Alex is back in lessons after just eight weeks.

She’s also celebrating raising £30,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust – and well on the way to her £50,000 target for the charity, which helps young people with cancer and their families.

I’d say stay positive, because positive thinking is a positive outcome.

Alex Turner

Her friends and family dubbed themselves Alex’s Angels and have taken part in a variety of challenges and events to raise the cash.

She added: “The fundraising is currently at £30,000 and after this there will probably be a few more hundred.

“We’ve got to collect a cheque from a large company, we’ve got a charity event that 500 people are attending, so we’ll easily hit the £50,000.

“It’s pretty amazing to know that that many people are supporting me and helping me reach my goal.

HERO'S WELCOME ... schoolmates line up to welcome Alex Turner back to St Wilfred's RC College.

HERO'S WELCOME ... schoolmates line up to welcome Alex Turner back to St Wilfred's RC College.

“My treatment finished in January. They said it would take six to nine months for recovery and I’m back at school within eight weeks.

“I’m feeling pretty good within myself, I’m healthy, I’m back to eating full meals, so I’m good.”

When asked what she would say to other young people suffering with cancer, Alex said: “I’d say stay positive, because positive thinking is a positive outcome.”

The school, in Temple Park Road, set itself an independent target to raise £2,500 for the Teenage Cancer Trust in honour of Alex, but has since decided to raise 10 per cent of whatever Alex does.

The balloon release was part of the school’s International Women’s Day celebrations, as teachers say Alex is an inspiration to all at the school.

The balloons were coloured green, purple and white, the colours of the Suffragettes.

EMOTIONAL MOMENT ... Alex had the support of all her schoolmates as she returned for the first time since her cancer was diagnosed.

EMOTIONAL MOMENT ... Alex had the support of all her schoolmates as she returned for the first time since her cancer was diagnosed.

Associate assistant headteacher Samantha Tumelty said: “The balloon release went off really well. I think all the anxiety in the build-up to it is all forgotten about now.

“It went really well and the students were excellent and I think it really did mark the occasion.

“We wanted to do it as a whole-school approach, we didn’t see the point in just some students doing it and others not.

“We kind of wanted to all come together to show our support for Alex and to also mark International Women’s Day as well.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki