1. ITV Report

Brave teenager raises awareness for bone cancer charity

Francesca Haigh and her sister Elsa Photo:

In most cancers, the survival rate has risen steadily over the years. But bone cancer is a different story. It mainly affects children and young people, and the survival rate has remained the same for the past 25 years.

More than 450 people are diagnosed with primary bone cancer each year and only about half will survive the next five years.

13-year-old Francesca, from Cullingworth in West Yorkshire, says she was lucky, as it took just a few days to get a diagnosis after she visited her doctor when she was seven.

Symptoms include pain, for example in the leg, which often gets worse at night and better during the day.

And this is the reason parents, and GPs, often dismiss the symptoms: they attribute it to "growing pains".

"I remember having pain during the night but after I got back from school the next day it would be a bit better.

"I was really lucky because my doctor recognised the symptoms and I went to hospital for an x-ray straight away.

"If everybody recognised the symptoms, and there was more money for research, the survival rate would be much better. An early diagnosis could be the difference between life and death."

Francesca regularly raises money for the Bone Cancer Research Trust, through bake sales and even organising concerts.

For more information on bone cancer click here.

The pictures below show Francesca's transition from a "normal" seven-year-old, to the gruelling treatment stage where her femur and knee were replaced with a metal rod, and finally back to a healthy teenager who uses her experience to raise money for charity.

She says if more research is done and awareness is raised, this could be the story for other children too.

Francesca before she was diagnosed with primary bone cancer
Francesca during her treatment
Francesca with sister Elsa raising money for the Bone Cancer Trust
Francesca collecting the Diana Award
Francesca speaking at a conference to raise awareness of bone cancer