Bluntisham girl who survived leukaemia meets Ellen McCarthur

A TEENAGE girl who was diagnosed with leukaemia at four-years-old met record-breaking sailor Ellen McCarthur as she sailed around the Isle of Wight.

Susie Beniston, 14, from Bluntisham, was recommended to take part in the Ellen McCarthur Cancer Trust trip around the island from July 22-26 by staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where she gets regular check ups.

“On the first day we got the ferry over to Cowes and went crabbing,” said Susie. “The next day we sailed around to Yarmouth and learned all the sailing terms. We fished mackerel for lunch and had a water fight and we also got to go on motor boats which was really good fun.

“There were a few people on the boat who had different things wrong with them but they weren’t treated differently. I talked with Ellen McCarthur for a bit. She was nice and brought her dog with her.”

Susie was diagnosed in December 2002. Her treatment started the following month in preparation for a bone marrow transplant but as the chemotherapy had wiped out her immune system, she became infected with aspergillus – an airborne fungal infection.

In April 2003, Susie had five operations to tackle the infection. The following month she was allowed to return home to build her resilience ahead of the transplant. Instead of starting school in the September, Susie had her bone marrow transplant at Bristol children’s hospital – her nine-year-old brother Alex was the donor.

Her mother Alison Beniston said: “The infection she got has left her blind in one eye and she has a blood clotting problem.

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“It was a really rough time for her but luckily she doesn’t remember much of it. She has had her ups and downs since the transplant and I’m incredibly proud of her.”