A mum and her young daughter are both celebrating beating cancer after completing their treatment – on the same day.
Brave Ruby Connar, 13, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of eight – just weeks before her condition would have been terminal.
But while she was undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment her family faced further heartache when mum Josie discovered a cancerous lump on her breast.
At times both mother and daughter would be having chemo at different ends of the hospital.
And on the date when Ruby finally had her last round of chemo, Josie had a double mastectomy – signalling the final part of both their respective life-saving treatments.
The duo said they have never been closer due to their shared ordeal and both now feel they have beaten their respective diseases.
Ruby was officially given the all-clear last November and, while Josie is still technically in remission, she is showing no signs of the cancer returning to her body.
Josie, 48, a police officer from Exeter, Devon, said: “We had no history of childhood cancer or breast cancer in the family – so it was a cruel twist of fate.
“It has been horrific at times – especially when we were told to prepare for the fact it would be Ruby’s last Christmas when she was first diagnosed.
“But it is a unique bond we share and as a family – including my adult son Jack – we are closer than ever.
“We never have any arguments and are just so close. We celebrate every day and appreciate everything that we have.
“But we enjoy life together so much more now. i feel very lucky, There are not many teenage daughters that want to do stuff with them. We have become even closer because of what we have been through.”
Ruby’s ordeal began in March 2011 when she broke her wrist for no apparent reason.
Over the next few months, she was treated for six fractures of several limbs, while at the same time she became lethargic, experienced nose bleeds and developed painful cellulitis.
By September 2011, Ruby was confined to a wheelchair and unable to walk without help.
Despite regular trips to her GP and follow-up appointments with consultants and physiotherapists, Ruby’s leukaemia remained undiagnosed.
Josie, who has one other child Jack, 25, added: “It was a tough, frustrating and painful few months for Ruby.
“It was heartbreaking for me to see my daughter suffer, particularly when she was such a fit and active girl before her illness, enjoying horse riding, ballet, playing on her scooter and generally running around with her friends.”
She was finally diagnosed during a visit to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children in November 2011 and responded well to chemotherapy.
But her mother was told that the condition would have been terminal had it remained undiagnosed for many more weeks.
And just as Ruby was about to return to school after a year of home tutoring, Josie said she noticed a lump in her breast.
She said: “Ruby went back in March 2013 and that was when I could go back to work.
“I had already discovered a lump in February but I was dismissive. I didn’t have time to see a doctor. But after Ruby went back to school I went to see a doctor and they confirmed it was breast cancer.
“I had the lump removed and had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.
“I took Ruby to every chemo session. But the day of my very first chemo session she had hers. I was at one end of the hospital and she was at the other.
“It was bizarre how the dates fitted around. On 15 January 2014 I had my double mastectomy and Ruby had her last day of any chemo.
“We both had our final treatment on the same day – which is a bizarre coincidence.
“We both feel like we have beaten cancer – and we have done it together. Ruby is now all-clear after five years as of November this year.
“I am technically still in remission but I am fine.Ruby has done really well. She is flourishing academically and wants to get into medicine.
“She is amazing. She is such a determined girl.”
Josie said she now wants the employees to back a campaign to make CLIC Sargent the charity partner for supermarket Morrisons this year – a link-up that could earn the charity £7m.
She added: “The support we got from CLIC Sargent was phenomenal and no family should have to go without that support when they need it most.”