Sophie’s legacy: The breakthrough that may help save children with bone cancer

Watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura 


Sophie Taylor from Norfolk died with bone cancer at the age of five.

Her tumour was donated to scientists and it is hoped groundbreaking research at the University of East Anglia will help identify the disease earlier and save more lives.

The researchers at the Norwich Medical School at the university say it is the most significant research into bone cancer in the past 40 years.

By the time a quarter of children are diagnosed, the cancer has already spread but now there's new a way to isolate cancer cells in the blood before they move to other parts of the body.

For Sophie Taylor from Norwich it sadly came too late, but the legacy she leaves behind could help others.

Sophie Taylor from Norwich was diagnosed with bone cancer in January 2018.

Sophie from Norwich was diagnosed with bone cancer in January 2018 and had surgery to amputate part of her leg.

Despite the cancer spreading, Sophie continued to stick her tongue out at the disease - encouraging others to do the same.

She gained a legion of supporters - including former Norwich City footballer James Maddison who she described as her best friend.

But a year later Sophie died when the cancer reached her lungs.

Sophie with former Norwich City footballer James Maddison who she called 'her best friend'

Sophie's parents Alex and Kirsty Taylor told ITV News Anglia: "I don't think there is anything worse than losing your child.

"We are now reaching a point, I don't know if content is the right word, but we are more happier to embrace Sophie's positives rather than dwelling on the negative that she is not here."

Obviously we can't do anything to help Sophie and save her now, but if her legacy goes on to help and save others, I think that is the best that we can do, and if Sophie is looking down she would be proud to know that she was a huge part of that.

Alex Taylor, Sophie's father

Sophie's cancer tumour was donated to the University of East Anglia to help in the research.

Dr Darrell Green is leading the study into bone cancer of the UEA Norwich Medical School.

The death of a childhood friend led Dr Darrell Green into a career in medical science. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Dr Green was inspired to take up a career in science after the death of his childhood best friend Ben who he grew up with in Thetford

He said: "Essentially what we have been able to do here is to isolate cancer cells in the blood which are performing the spread process.

"Chemotherapy for bone cancer has been around since the late 1970s and there hasn't been any major treatment since then. What we are hoping comes from this work is that targeting the exact cause of spread."

There are nights when I am here really late and you think about going home, but you think about his parents and you think about other patients and it just gives you that extra push to stay later and keep going.

Dr Darrell Green, Norwich Medical School, UEA

For Sophie, the research may have come too late but her legacy continues to live on through science.

Five-year-old Sophie Taylor from Norwich died of bone cancer in 2019.