Rhabdomyosarcoma - Rebecca's Story

Rebecca's Story -

Rhabdomyosarcoma

Before Rebecca was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, she was like many sporty eight-year-olds. She enjoyed swimming and tumbling around at gymnastics.  

“I always wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. I was always called the mermaid of the family.”

In 2014, her parents noticed a swelling around her thigh and knee. They just assumed she had pulled a muscle. But a week later a large bruise appeared on the back of her knee, so her dad took her to the GP.

Rebecca lying in a hospital bed, looking at the camera with a little smile

The doctor referred her to hospital for some more tests including an ultrasound. They had found a blood clot in her groin, a tumour in her thigh and a tumour in her knee. 

The family were shocked. A biopsy revealed it was rhabdomyosarcoma: soft tissue cancer found in the muscles, bones, soft tissue areas. Rebecca was confused about what had happened, she didn’t want to be like this. 

“I couldn’t understand what was going on…it escalated so quickly.”

After finding more tumours and realising the cancer had spread, doctors brought Rebecca in to start chemotherapy the next day. The treatment made Rebecca incredibly unwell and she lost a lot of weight during this time.

A few months later in July, Rebecca had leg surgery to remove the biggest tumour, but they couldn’t remove it all. After more chemotherapy and also radiotherapy, Rebecca went through remission in October 2015 and she went back to swimming and some gymnastics.  

“2016 was the best year, I was doing gymnastics, back to school. Everything was ok again.” 

Rebecca sat in a wheel chair holding her mum's hand while her dad stands next to her.At the start of 2017, Rebecca found a lump in her leg at school.  

“I started panicking. Once I felt that lump, I knew what it was. I had a gut feeling.”

A biopsy followed the day after her 11th birthday and in February 2017, she got her scan results. She had relapsed.  

“I thought, why is it happening again, I thought it would be gone forever.”

Rebecca went through more operations on her leg, due to her tumour being wrapped around the artery of her right thigh, followed by chemotherapy. She had to learn how to walk again, and from August until November she had radiotherapy on her whole leg. 

At the end of 2017, Rebecca  was in remission again.  

“I was happy again. I went to secondary school in early 2018 and by September 2018 school was getting better.

Rebecca again noticed a weird bruise on the side of her thigh again in the early parts of 2019. Over the next few days her thigh started swelling, so after her thirteenth birthday, she went for her regular check-up with her leg doctor. He immediately sent her for an ultrasound, where they scanned her leg and groin. The results had found something, so Rebecca was sent for an MRI and a biopsy.  

“I said I already know it’s cancer. I know.”

Rebecca had more chemotherapy and then surgery in March 2020, and her latest test results have been really positive. However, she is now in 12 weeks isolation at home due to the risk posed by the coronavirus. 

Tracy said: “It’s unbelievable just when she could have been returning to school and had some freedom again, but she’s in the high-risk group who are vulnerable so there’s no option at all.  

Her family remain optimistic, with Rebecca already going through so much treatment. Her mother is hoping for the best as she enters her seventh year of treatment. “We hope that she will be able to enjoy time out again soon.” 

Rebecca in The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off Apron and Oven Gloves smiling at the camera.

“I just want her to be happy really. As long as she lives a full life, that’s all I ask really.”


- Rebecca's Mum

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