Brave Melton schoolgirl, 13, receives national honour for courage throughout cancer battle

Melton schoolgirl Mary Duddigan, 13, with her Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens Star Award EMN-151130-152135001
Melton schoolgirl Mary Duddigan, 13, with her Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens Star Award EMN-151130-152135001

A Melton teenager has received a national award for her bravery in fighting cancer and enduring two tough years of treatment.

Mary Duddigan (13), who goes to John Ferneley College, has had her courage recognised with a Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens Star Award.

Mary, who has a month left of her treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, was nominated for the award by her proud dad, Pete, who recalled the day the family received the devastating news on November 11, 2013.

He said: “I just went to pieces. I couldn’t understand how such a strong young girl could be struck down by something like that.

“I always remember Mary saying: ‘It’ll be alright dad’. She was amazing. There I was cracking up and she was telling me it would be okay!

“I nominated her for the award because she’s been so strong throughout all of her treatment. While we were all going to pieces around her and weren’t quite sure how to deal with things, Mary has just soldiered on through it all.”

Mary, who moved to Melton from the Isle of Wight last year with mum Theresa, dad Pete and sister Clare (15), was diagnosed after suffering about three weeks of sickness.

She had an immediate blood transfusion followed by a long course of chemotherapy due to end on January 24.

When Mary’s long hair began to fall out about six weeks after diagnosis, she decided to get it all cut off. Her older sister, Clare, decided to have her own hair shaved off at the same time in a touching show of support for her little sister.

Dad Pete added: “It was like we’d been watching Mary fade away but as soon as treatment started it was astonishing to see how she picked up.

“The way I see it Mary’s survival is down to 40 years of research that people have raised funds for and worked hard on. If it wasn’t for charities like Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens and all those who have raised money over the years, Mary wouldn’t be here today.”

Cancer Research UK’s Kids and Teens Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, were recently launched by England and Manchester United football captain Wayne Rooney to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by youngsters affected by cancer.

The awards are open to all under-18s who have cancer or who’ve been treated for the disease in the last five years. There’s no judging panel. Award recipients get a trophy, certificate signed by celebrities and £50 TK Maxx gift card.

l For more on the awards see www.cruk.org/kidsandteens

You can watch a video of Mary and dad Pete talking about her cancer fight and her special award by visiting https://youtu.be/CSmkaH5LfYY