Derbyshire's Imogen pledges to beat rare cancer

Brave Imogen Ellis. Picture submitted.
Brave Imogen Ellis. Picture submitted.

A schoolgirl who is battling a rare bone cancer and had a leg amputated just four weeks ago insists: "I will beat this."

Imogen Ellis, 16, contracted Ewing's sarcoma in 2016. It affects fewer than 30 children in the UK a year.

She started suffering knee pains and was forced to stop attending Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School and exercising at the S18 gym.

Then the disease spread to her lungs.

Yet despite that and the recent surgery, the Dronfield Woodhouse girl attended a fundraising event in her honour at S18 on Sunday.

Family and friends, inspired by her courage, aim to raise up to £30,000 to fund a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb.

Imogen said: "NHS legs are good but my parents want the best you can possibly get.

"I think it is their way of helping me get over it."

She added she was 'definitely' going to beat cancer, insisting: "I'm very confident."

Imogen, a keen horse-rider, hockey and netball player before her illness, recalled: "I was a really sporty person and then (last year) I started to get aches in my knee.

"I had an MRI scan fan and found out I had a type of bone cancer in my leg.

"My plan was to have chemotherapy then maybe radiotherapy and an operation to get rid of it.

"I have been trying to carry on as normal as possible throughout it all.

"Some days I do have my down days.

"But I try to carry on doing things that I did before.

"It is really difficult when I am on chemotherapy because some days I can't actually get out of bed."

She said the illness has made her realise 'not to take anything for granted and do as much' as she can when she feels well enough.

She added: "I used to come to the gym all the time with my friends, I did some boxing training on the pads.

"I became good friends with (owners) Andy and Fallon Marlow" - who organised Sunday's fund-raising event at their Callywhite Lane base - said Imogen, who has two brothers, one sister and four step-brothers.

Helpers like them, she said, 'have all been really amazing'.

Imogen, who is being treated at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield, added: "I can't believe how much support I've got.

"People I wasn't really close to before they are really supporting me and raising money.

"They are all trying their hardest to get me the best possible leg."

Her father Richard, of Hollingwood, Chesterfield, said support and financial pledges for Imogen had been 'immense'.

"A top of the range prosthetic limb can cost anywhere from £15-30,000 but we have so many people wanting to take part, we can do it," he said.

"On July 1, we are having a sponsored walk from Bramall Lane to the Hollingworth Hotel in Chesterfield - anything from 200 to 300 people will be taking part in that."

Richard said the family was in awe of Imogen's recovery powers.

"Within a few hours of the amputation she was smiling - she'd told us to have a pizza waiting for her, after the op!

"As for beating the disease, I say the same thing to her all the time, 'you can, you will'."

Imogen has a JustGiving fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sheff-utd-print