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Brain tumour teen Danielle McGriskin overjoyed with reception at Downing Street

By Victoria O'Hara

An inspirational campaigning teenager who is battling a brain tumour has spoken of her delight at being among the guests of honour at a reception at 10 Downing Street.

Danielle McGriskin from Lisburn, Co Antrim, was diagnosed with the benign tumour in 2011 but went on to help others and raise more than £150,000 for charity.

During the reception hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron's wife, Samantha, 19-year-old Danielle was interviewed by broadcaster Alice Beer and spoke to guests about her experiences in a bid to raise awareness of the work CLIC Sargent does for people battling cancer and benign tumours.

Around 100 people attended the event, including sports presenter and CLIC Sargent ambassador Jake Humphrey and his wife Harriet.

Danielle, a former winner of the Belfast Telegraph Making the Difference Awards, said: "It was incredible to have the opportunity to go to Downing Street. I really enjoyed the evening and it was a great chance to talk about the support CLIC Sargent is able to provide.

"CLIC Sargent has been a huge support throughout my journey. They enabled my family to be together over Christmas at a CLIC Sargent Home from Home when I had to move to Bristol for some of my treatment.

"I also have a wonderful CLIC Sargent social worker called Simon who has been an amazing support, helping me move forward from diagnosis to treatment and on to hopefully achieving my dreams of attending university in September."

Since being diagnosed with the low-grade brain tumour and hydrocephalus (water on the brain) caused by it, Danielle has created a blog about her battle, set up the Danielle McGriskin Fund and helped to spearhead the Headsmart campaign here in a bid to raise brain tumour awareness. The Prime Minister was so impressed with her work, he honoured her with a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individuals.

Danielle's mother, Amanda, previously spoke of how proud she was of her daughter. "We have been very lucky as a family that however tough it has been for Danielle, her positivity and get-up-and-go attitude has made it easier for us," she said.

A horse called Danielle's Journey that was named in honour of the teen had its first outing at Cheltenham in March. The owners of the animal, Antrim's Realta Horse Racing Club, approached Danielle's mother to see if they could help after hearing about her fundraising. They offered Danielle a 5% share, meaning a proportion of any winnings goes to the Danielle McGriskin Fund, set up for The Brain Tumour Charity.

At the Downing Street event on Tuesday, the campaigner was joined by young cancer survivors. Among them was 20-year-old Duncan Cathie, from Cheshire, who has been supported by CLIC Sargent since he was 16 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Danielle also met 25-year-old Jason Loo, who was told he had testicular cancer when he was 22, after taking his university finals. He praised CLIC Sargent for their "vital practical and emotional support".

Guests were also shown a film about CLIC's work, and the organisation's chief executive, Kate Lee, spoke about the body's ambition to provide even more vital support to young people and their families.

"Our young people are at the heart of everything we do, so it was an honour to hear from them during the evening and find out more about the impact a cancer diagnosis has had on their lives and the difference CLIC Sargent was able to make," she told the audience.

"We are determined to be there for every child and young person diagnosed with cancer who needs our support, and this Downing Street reception was a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the work we are doing and the plans we have to continue changing what it means to be diagnosed with cancer when you're young."

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