Belfast Telegraph

Cancer, exams, half marathon, beauty contest ... Amy (17) is taking it all in her stride

By Claire Williamson

Just 17 and battling cancer for a second time.

But that hasn't stopped Amy Uprichard's determination to keep smiling and following her dreams.

The teenager from Gilford is currently going through chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with leukaemia for a second time last month.

As she waits to undergo a bone marrow transplant, Amy is also waiting for her AS Level results after illness failed to stop her from sitting her recent exams.

And she is also celebrating lifting a beauty pageant title.

The Co Down girl was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in May 2013. She was clear from the disease the following December, but then got the devastating news in June that she had relapsed.

At the time she was diagnosed – just the day before her exams started – the only symptom the plucky teen had was tiredness.

She said: "I thought it was stress from exams and stuff. The doctor actually diagnosed me with anaemia iron deficiency. Then I went to the hospital a few days later because I still wasn't any better and it was there I was diagnosed with leukaemia."

But the Banbridge Academy pupil took it in her stride.

She said: "It was very shocking. It didn't really flinch me hearing it. I was just like, OK, well it's something that I have to deal with and get my exams done."

The teenager has had four rounds of chemotherapy and is now gearing up for more intense treatment including a bone marrow transplant – but none of that stopped her gaining her GCSEs and AS Level exams. The determined pupil returned to school in February this year after doing her GCSEs in hospital last year.

She then completed her AS Levels this month in French, business studies, chemistry and biology. She was told the day before she sat her exams that she had relapsed.

But it's Amy's cheerful attitude that has kept her going throughout her journey.

She said: "I think that's half the battle, having a good attitude about it.

"I can't wait to get started with everything. I'm just going to keep a positive attitude and come out the other side smiling.

"I'm the kind of person that just gets on with everything and takes it all in my stride and keeps focused.

"I just get on with whatever the next challenge is."

Just recently, Amy made it through to the finals of the UK/ Ireland Ultimate Beauty competition where she lifted the 'teen' title at a glamorous ceremony in Newry.

And Amy has gathered support from her family, who she says are there whenever she needs them.

"My family have been brilliant. It's hard on them having to watch it all and run up and down to hospital – they are so supportive."

Looking to the future, Amy has put her career choices on hold until she knows the length of her recovery but has plenty of options.

She said: "I wanted to be a ballet dancer but I have to put that on hold for a while. I had also thought about a doctor so it's all kind of up in the air at the minute.

"I'm also very interested in charity work, so that could be a route I end up in as well."

Here's how to join forces with Amy

Amy Uprichard has joined forces with Miss Northern Ireland finalists to call on anyone interested in taking part in the 2014 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon to Run for Home in support of the event's official charity CLIC Sargent and its Homes From Home Appeal.

She said: "CLIC Sargent was one of the first charities that provided a social worker for myself and has stayed by me from day one.

"They give us some financial help and they do whatever they can to really help young people.

"There is no charity really like it in the way they help young people through their cancer experiences."

For more info visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/ content/northern-ireland-appeal

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