Heartache as family prepares to bid farewell to Alexandra Johnston
The funeral of an "inspirational" teenager who lost a five-year battle with cancer will take place tomorrow.
Alexandra Johnston (16) passed away on Thursday in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children surrounded by her family.
She had fought Ewing's sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that affects bones or the tissue around bones.
The cortege will leave the family home for 2.30pm Requiem Mass at St Columb's Church on Chapel Road in Londonderry, followed by burial at St Patrick's Church Cemetery in Claudy.
When diagnosed at the age of 11, Alexandra was given just three months to live, but defied the odds. The Claudy teenager celebrated her 16th birthday on New Year's Day and said she was "overwhelmed" after receiving more than 1,000 cards with messages of support and love from around the world. The Belfast Telegraph had carried a story urging people to send her cards.
Appealing for privacy prior to the service at St Columb's, the family asked that donations be made to CLIC Sargent, Bandanas for the Brave and the Children's Cancer Unit.
Alexandra is survived by her parents Andre and Karen, sisters Danica and Carly, and brothers Ryan and Callum. In a death notice her grieving family described her as an "inspiration".
Her father said: "A lot of you have been on this journey with us for four-and-a-half years and been inspired, laughed and now shed a tear as the most amazing, inspirational, brave and talented young lady is shining amongst the stars tonight.
"She has left an indelible mark on many lives, changed lives and enriched people's hearts all over the world."