22nd September 2019
Alicia Armstrong gets leg strong on her CFC Trek
“Alicia was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in May 2012, a week before her 11th birthday,” Alicia’s mum Maria said. “She immediately began the standard protocol treatment for AML which is about six months’ worth of quite intensive chemotherapy. A couple of months later they found that she had higher risk AML, so she was going to need a bone marrow transplant. That was scheduled for September but about two weeks before she was due for the transplant she relapsed — Alicia had been in remission. The transplant was postponed and she had to have further treatment.
“She was very poorly at this point. After more chemotherapy in September the hospital decided to do a cord blood transplant instead of a bone marrow transplant. She went into the ‘bubble unit’ on October 1 and she had her cord blood transplant on October 11.
“Alicia has always been sports mad. She’s done triathlons from the age of eight — she finished third in her age group in the North-East Grand Prix the season before her diagnosis. In fact, just four weeks before being diagnosed she had competed in the UK Schools Biathlon Championships. While we were in the bubble unit somebody mentioned there was an exercise bike on the ward, so we had that brought into the room. Then Michelle, a social worker attached to the hospital, realised that Alicia was keen on cycling, so she wrote to Cyclists Fighting Cancer on our behalf.
“We were eventually discharged from hospital about a week before Christmas. Alicia was still very poorly coming home — just walking up the stairs was hard. But then in February she received her bike and it was such a boost for her. M Steel Cycles in Gosforth took delivery of the bike and built it for Alicia – they’ve been fantastic. We went there to pick it up and she was so excited. She was given an absolutely beautiful little Trek racing bike.
“It’s just been amazing. The first few times she went out on it, it was only for a couple of minutes, but it’s great to see the progression. She can probably manage about 25 minutes on her bike now — that’s fabulous and that’s just in the space of six or eight weeks. She has also heard about the British Transplant Games for children, so she’s quite keen to compete in those. Alicia still gets very tired but her strength is coming back and she just loves the bike. In fact she saw the sun shining this morning and asked: can we go out cycling?”
Words courtesy of Matt Lamy of Cycling Active Magazine