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Cancer-hit teen star of Taylor Swift parody finally finds a bone marrow match

By Victoria O'Hara

A teenage cancer patient who appeared in a parody video of Taylor Swift's Bad Blood has spoken of her relief at finally finding a suitable donor.

Bethany Courtney, from Co Down, was asked by US filmmaker Kevin McDevitt to appear in his spoof to raise awareness of the blood cancer she and he were battling. The video has since gone viral, with tens of thousands of views from around the world.

Schoolgirl Bethany was 16 when she was diagnosed with two rare cancers in August 2013 after three months of symptoms including night sweats, bruises and feeling overly tired. The cancers are aplastic anaemia and PNH, a form of the disease that destroys red blood cells.

With a bone marrow donor finally being found in June, 18-year-old Bethany will undergo her potentially life-saving procedure later this month.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the Downe High pupil explained she was travelling to a Leeds hospital on October 6.

"I'm so happy that it's finally happening, because the bone marrow transplant is the best option for me to have to treat my illness," she said. "Having the chance is great.

"I found out at the end of June I had a match. It was a bittersweet moment because we were told there was a match, but he wasn't available until October. We had hoped that if I had it during August I could get back to school in January, but that didn't work.

"I'll have chemotherapy afterwards for the first time, for about three months.

"It will be a bit scary, but it was a huge relief."

Bethany described the past two years as a "rollercoaster", but said one of the high points was passing her GCSEs despite battling her illness.

"I was just about to start fifth year, and I wasn't there for most of the year, but I still tried to do my best in GCSEs," she added.

"I did get all of them and got two A*s in art and technology, one A and seven Bs. I was expecting C and Ds, so we were just overwhelmed."

Another high point for her was appearing in Kevin's 'Good Blood' video, the opportunity for which came about after Bethany and her mum got to know him through a Facebook page for people with blood cancer.

"I usually don't like seeing myself in photos or videos, but I thought it was so good for awareness, and I'm only in it for a few seconds," Bethany said.

"I thought the video was brilliant. I just put my iPad on the shelf and filmed myself!"

After the bone marrow transplant, Bethany will spend three months recovering, but she is looking forward to a healthier future.

"It has been a rollercoaster. There are the ups and downs and then there are things you are just not expecting. I've been in denial and angry about it all, but I realised it didn't help. Now I'm just more accepting about what I'm going through. I know it sounds cliched, but the more positive you are, the better it is."

Bethany's mum Roslyn Preen said the family had faith in the medical teams set to treat her daughter. She added: "The team at St James, led by Prof Gordon Cook, will have it all in hand and, in liaison with Prof Peter Hillmen (head of the PNH team in Leeds) and Prof Mary Frances McMullin, consultant at Bridgewater Clinic in Belfast City Hospital, they will guide and support us through this period. We know that we are in good hands."

Every week in Northern Ireland three children, teenagers or young people are diagnosed with cancer. Belfast City Hall was lit up gold last night to mark the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

To become a bone marrow donor, visit To see Bethany's video, visit watch? v=ZHJbAjvZ5QE&

Belfast Telegraph


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