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Teenage cancer patient relearns how to walk after chemotherapy left her too weak – South London News

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A 14-year-old cancer patient has thanked staff at a South London hospital after she relearned how to walk.

Ismahan Ahmed from Peckham was too weak to walk after having years of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants to treat her leukaemia.

But with the help of the physio team at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, she is now able to walk around the hospital – including up and down stairs.

Ismahan said: “It’s been such a difficult three years, particularly being in hospital during the pandemic, but having this goal and timeline to focus on has helped me stay positive and I’m so happy to achieve my goal of learning how to walk again.”

“I’m so thankful to the entire clinical team, but particularly the physio team who have really helped me overcome the weakness I was experiencing and help build my confidence to succeed.”

Ismahan was just 11 years old when she began feeling sick and fainting on a daily basis.

She was also dehydrated and anaemic and losing weight.

She said: “I was living in Kenya at the time and the doctors weren’t sure what was wrong with me, but when we moved back to London, my mum took me to St George’s.

“Just a few hours and multiple tests later I found out I had acute myeloid leukaemia”. 

That day, Ismahan was transferred to St George’s paediatric intensive care unit.

She needed three rounds of chemotherapy to treat the blood and bone marrow cancer, which was followed by a stem cell transplant at the Royal Marsden in Chelsea.

She said: “I was lucky that my brother was a 100 per cent match and was my stem cell donor. 

“Everything was a success, until February 2021. After my routine blood work my doctor noticed some bad cells showing that I had relapsed. 

“I was devastated, my life was just getting better, now this.”

Ismahan’s relapse meant that she needed further rounds of chemotherapy at St George’s and another stem cell transplant at the Royal Marsden. 

While they were successful in treating the cancer, they left her with stress induced injuries and weakness meaning she was unable to walk.

She decided to set herself the target to learn to walk again by the time she turned 14 years old at the end of January 2022, which she managed to do with the support of the physio team at St George’s.

Isobel Highett, paediatric physiotherapist at St George’s, said: “Seeing the difference in Ismahan’s confidence levels over the last few months has been amazing. 

“She has progressed so much from being mainly in bed and finding it difficult to walk around her hospital room, to now being able to walk up and down stairs and do some exercises.”

Ismahan hopes she will soon be able to leave hospital and continue her recovery from home.

She said: “Think positive and be patient as you don’t know what life will bring. I hope 2022 will be better.”

Dr Sijo Francis, Clinical Director for Children’s Services at St George’s, said: “It’s humbling to see the resilience of children like Ismahan and I’m very proud of the comprehensive children’s team at St George’s whose multidisciplinary and collaborative approach have helped Ismahan throughout her journey.”

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