Emotional tribute to a special little girl

Anisah Mahmood, who died from cancer aged nine
Anisah Mahmood, who died from cancer aged nine
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CLASSMATES and teachers came together at a memorial assembly in honour of a ‘bright and bubbly’ bookworm who lost her brave battle against cancer aged just nine.

The family of Anisah Mahmood joined staff and children at Worry Goose Infant and Junior School in Whiston, Rotherham, for the event to celebrate the life of the popular schoolgirl.

A cherry tree is also due to be planted in the grounds of the school - which will blossom in her memory each year around the time of the anniversary of her death.

Her heartbroken father Arshad said it had been an emotional day.

“It has been very hard since Anisah died,” he said.

“But although the assembly was an emotional occasion, it was lovely to see everyone come together and remember what a special girl she was.

“Everyone - whether it was her classmates and teachers at school, the staff on the ward at the hospital, and of course her brothers and sister - loved her.

“She was a popular, bright and bubbly girl and we all miss her so much.”

It is only a year since Anisah was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on her windpipe and neck.

The symptoms had come on suddenly when she woke up one day with a swelling on one side of her face.

Her GP immediately sent her for tests at Rotherham hospital, who then referred her to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for further investigations.

But Anisah’s condition quickly deteriorated and she spent two weeks in intensive care while medical staff tried to stabilise her condition.

Soon after the family - which includes Arshad’s wife Nazreen, sister Aisha, 12, and brothers Abdul, 10, and Mohammed, six - were given the shocking news she had cancer.

“She’d never been ill,” Arshad, 37, said.

“She was fit and healthy - had 100 per cent attendance at school. When they told us the news our world just turned upside down.”

It was also particularly tough breaking the news to Anisah - after her aunt, Arshad’s sister Nahima, died from bowel cancer aged just 17.

“She knew her aunty had died from this disease,” he said. “So on hearing she had cancer too, she just retreated into her shell.”

But things started to look up for the family when Anisah began responding positively to chemotherapy.

In December the family was told the treatment had worked - she was allowed home and was looking forward to returning to school.

But devastatingly within just two weeks similar symptoms returned, and doctors broke the tragic news the disease had come back - and this time had also spread to her lung and one side of her face.

A higher dose of chemotherapy was tried, but it was soon clear the disease had taken too firm a hold.

She died peacefully, at home in Whiston and surrounded by her family, last month.

Arshad, a systems engineer who gave up work when Anisah became ill, said: “She had everything going for her and we feel her loss every day.”