Sheffield mum's tribute to 'ball of energy' four-year-old who was first patient at city's vital cancer ward for children

Funny and bright four-year-old Alexandra Latham was the first patient on the cancer ward at Sheffield Chidren’s Hospital back in 1997.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 6:00 am
Alexandra was a 'ball of energy' and would have set herself lots of challenges, says her mum Gabrielle today

In May that year the big sister was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that affects around 100 children each year in the UK.

Alex had an operation in October that year which removed the tumour, as well as one of her kidneys and her spleen. A few days before Christmas, her family were told that her cancer had returned.

Alex sadly died at home on December 30, 1997.

Alexandra's parents on their walking challenge

Her mum, Gabrielle said: “Alex was funny, bright and very lively with gorgeous red curls. She was our first born and a great sister to her siblings Sara and James. She would have loved her little brother Jack who came along in 1999.

“She loved to dance and we told her sister she turned into a star after she died and that we could see her in the sky.”

In September 2019, Gabrielle became seriously ill herself after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Thankfully, she made a full recovery and chose to mark it by supporting The Children’s Hospital Charity appeal to build a new cancer and leukaemia ward. Gabrielle set herself a challenge to walk 60 miles for her 60th birthday and raise £600.

Gabrielle said: “It was the furthest I have ever walked. I felt very tired, extremely relieved but also very proud to complete the distance. Alex was such a ball of energy that I think, had she been with us today, she would have set herself lots of challenges in her life.”

Remarkably, Gabrielle’s challenge raised more than twice her target - a phenomenal £1,444.

She continues: “I’m also very happy to have raised money for the new ward, it will make a massive difference to the children and the families.

"I remember every minute of the time we spent on the ward and I love the idea that more rooms will overlook the park.

“Comfortable beds for parents also sound great - when I stayed with Alex after her operation, I developed a frozen shoulder after three weeks on a pull out bed, and the nurses had to make me a sling!

"They would make a huge difference to people’s experiences too.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​