Belfast Telegraph

Cousin of tragic Alexandra Johnston to shave head for new charity

By Claire Williamson

The cousin of a teenager who lost her battle with cancer is to shave her hair off in memory of her brave relation.

Alexandra Johnston, from Claudy in Co Londonderry, touched hearts far and wide.

She was just 16 when she passed away earlier this year.

Before her death she had spoken with her dad about setting up the charity Just Keep Swimming Yaya.

Now to help kickstart it and continue her legacy, her cousin Ana Sweeney (21) is surrendering to the clippers.

"It's something I've been talking about doing for a while anyway," she said.

"It was the morning of the funeral, Alexandra's dad Andre said they were going to start a charity in her name and I thought: 'Here is a cause I can do it for'. It's something important for me and the rest of my family."

Ana, a student at Magee, said Alexandra was an inspiration, and while they are struggling without her, they know her pain is over.

"We were close. There were four of us around the same age and we were all close," she explained.

"It's difficult to go round to the house and her not be there. She is at peace now so that gives us peace of mind and that she's not suffering anymore.

"From when she was first diagnosed I was always in awe of her going through her treatment; anytime you saw her she'd be in such a good mood.

"She was so good at keeping her spirits up and doing whatever she had to do to get through."

Looking ahead to her challenge, which takes place next Tuesday, Ana said she hopes it will have an impact.

"Alexandra was one of a kind, really, from when she was born she was always kind of special," she added.

"She was a fighter and whatever she was going through the whole time from her first diagnosis, I always thought: 'I don't know how she's doing it'.

"She was an inspiration to a lot of people."

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