Inspirational Rotherham cancer victims’s £90,000 legacy

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A teenage cancer victim who never gave up on living life to the full and achieving his potential is the inspiration behind a series of fundraising events which have raised over £90,000 in his memory.

Alex Albiston, from Wickersley, Rotherham, died at the age of 18 in March 2010 after losing a two-year battle with cancer.

Despite his illness, the brave teen battled on with his studies - even taking school exams while he was in hospital.

The gifted youngster achieved five A-Level A grades and landed a place at Cambridge University, where he planned to study Spanish and Russian.

But his dream was dashed when, after a number of months in remission, Alex was told his cancer had returned - just one day before he was due to start his course.

Alex was a talented sportsman who played as a goalkeeper for Sheffield Wednesday’s academy and he was the captain of his local cricket team.

He was initially diagnosed with cancer when a cricket injury failed to heal and scans revealed a tumour.

The teenager underwent chemotherapy at the Teenage Cancer Trust young person’s unit at Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield and had surgery to remove the mass, but when the cancer returned it was found to have spread to his lungs.

Rather than wallowing in self pity, Alex spearheaded fundraising events for the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Weston Park and the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

As of his birthday on April 5, 2016, a total of £90,087 had been raised in his memory through dozens of events, including a sponsored head shave, charity football matches, a sky dive, a cricket match and sponsored runs.

The next fundraiser planned in his memory will see Alex’s friend, Jack Armstrong, 25, from Rotherham, complete the Virgin Money London Marathon for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

He said: “The Teenage Cancer Trust unit was unbelievable. It was like being in someone’s living room and Alex’s family and I were taken aback by the amount of care and facilities on offer to support Alex through cancer.

“Alex was a naturally gifted, hilarious lad who was taken too soon.

“He was a remarkable young man, who demonstrated such wisdom and courage during his illness and he never let the cancer affect his wicked sense of humour or mask his winning smile. For those who knew Alex, they can pride themselves in knowing such an extraordinary young man and take comfort in his memory, his inspiration and the light he brought to the world.

“Alex will live on the hearts of many. I am so proud and honoured to represent not only my friend, but this fantastic charity at such a prestigious event.

“I am under no illusions that running 26.2 miles is going to be both physically and mentally exhausting. However, that is nothing in comparison to what young cancer patients and their families have to deal with on a day to day basis.”

Every day around seven young people aged 13 to 24 from across the UK are diagnosed with cancer.

Teenage Cancer Trust units are designed to feel like a home from home, where young people feel comfortable.

The walls are bright, the furniture is funky, there are pool tables, a jukebox and a place to watch films and surf the net.

Following Alex’s death, his dad Tim described him as ‘an inspirational individual’ who ‘packed a lot into his short life’.

He added: “He will be forever remembered for his lack of self-pity and resentment and his absolute determination to live life to the full.”

An online fundraising page set up to detail all the events held in Alex’s memory says the brave teenager, who raised thousands of pounds himself for the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Weston Park and the Bone Cancer Research Trust, had been ‘particularly disappointed that outcomes from bone cancer had not significantly improved over the last 15 years’.

A property in Darnall, Sheffield, which offers a home to vulnerable young people, was named after Alex following his death.

Charitable organisation Impact Living, which provides homes for young people with housing difficulties, including those with cancer, named a property in Wilfred Drive the Alexander James Albiston House in his memory.

Before he died Alex had visited the house and expressed an interest in volunteering there once he was well enough.