Deborah, Stephanie's mother, shares her story
She was very red when born, her blood too thick for her to circulate, where Becki was small grey and anaemic. So they needed special baby care, a twin-to-twin transfusion and after six days we took them home on Christmas Eve.
They were amazing from the moment they arrived as any mother will tell, like their older sister Bernie and later on their younger brother Nathaniel, all are special for very different reasons, each an individual in their own right. Stephi was always exploring and a bit of a dare devil, trying anything and everything she or some one else could think of. As a twin they had a very special relationship, which as parents fascinated us.
At nine Stephi and Becki started fell running and were very good at it, this started a very athletic life style for the three girls and myself. I became a qualified athletic coach the girls joined Keighley Club then later on moved to Bingley Harriers. They all competed at differing levels over the years, and settled into specialising into particular areas of athletics. Stephi loved Hurdles, long jump and throwing the shot. She was best at Hurdles and long jump. She competed for both Bingley Harriers and her school. She enjoyed most sports and loved P.E. at school.
She loved school and prided herself, in getting a certificate for 100% attendance, at the end of each academic year. She was so upset when she had to have two weeks off when she had her tonsils out.
The summer that Stephi started complaining her knee hurt after an injury, I did as I had always done with an injury, rest, ice, compress and elevate. After two weeks and there seemed little or no improvement it was time for the doctors. This we did, diagnosed with torn cartilage or ligament in back of knee, she was referred to a specialist, but there was about a 12-week waiting list. Doctor said to continue with what we were doing and gave some strong pain relief. Over the next six weeks Stephi's knee slowly got more and more painful, and became swollen, backwards and forwards to doctors for stronger pain relief. I eventually rang the hospital to see if they could give Stephi a quicker appointment, or if they got a late cancellation then would they ring. Anything to get her seen, they suggested that I went to see the G.P. who had referred her, as he could fast track her if he felt it necessary. I made the appointment, he was so shocked by the swelling above the knee and wanted her to be x-rayed as soon as possible, this no longer looked like soft tissue damage.
She had the x-ray the next day, the G.P. rang even before I got her home, with an appointment to see the specialist the next day. X-ray showed a possible tumour. Our lives changed that day and we started the very steep learning curve and entered the world of cancer with osteosarcoma.
After she was diagnosed Stephi began chemotherapy, after two cycles (each cycle lasting five weeks) she went to Birmingham for surgery. Surgeons skilfully avoided amputation by replacing most of her femur and part of the tibia with a titanium implant.
Stephi then returned to St James for the next four cycles of chemotherapy before commencing with chest surgery to remove secondary cancer in the lungs. Unfortunately this cancer is very aggressive and therefore so is the chemotherapy; Stephi became increasing ill, weakened by the treatment and caught an infection. Her body went into major organ failure and there was nothing that could be done.
Stephi died aged 14 on April 1st 2003, within six months of starting her treatment, from complications caused by the treatment and its side effects used to cure osteosarcoma.