Parents pay tribute to ‘inspirational’ Crookhorn teenager who died from cancer

Katie, third from right, with friends, left to right, Grace O'Connor, Demi Scott, Charlie Balloqui, Elise Pressley and Bryony Sutton
Katie, third from right, with friends, left to right, Grace O'Connor, Demi Scott, Charlie Balloqui, Elise Pressley and Bryony Sutton

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THE family of a girl who died from cancer are sharing their story to keep her legacy alive.

Katie Scannell, 14, was diagnosed with cancer in January 2017 and lost her battle with the condition on January 30, this year.

Her parents Jason and Michelle said their loving daughter continued to smile throughout her treatment and her positivity had inspired them to be strong.

Michelle, from Crookhorn, said: ‘Katie was a character but she was private and homely.

‘She always had a smile on her face. Even at the end when the community nurses came to treat her she was always smiling.

‘She was quietly confident and very clever and loved going on holidays.

A picture of Katie Scannell was shared by singer Ariana Grande

A picture of Katie Scannell was shared by singer Ariana Grande

‘Katie was loved by everyone. It wasn’t until we looked on her Facebook that we realised she had so many friends and touched the lives of so many people.

‘She was an amazing person and is our angel. Katie is our inspiration to stay strong.’

The Purbrook Park School pupil found a lump on her groin last year and was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer. According to Macmillan Cancer Support, rhabdomyosarcoma affects fewer than 60 children in the UK a year.

Katie immediately started chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Southampton General Hospital’s Piam Brown ward to treat the tumour.

She was an amazing person and is our angel

Michelle Scannell

Her dad Jason added: ‘Katie was in and out of hospital for months but she was doing really well and responding to the treatment.

‘In October we were told by the hospital she was in part remission.

‘But in December while at a physiotherapy session, Katie collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

‘She had a massive seizure so the doctors at Queen Alexandra Hospital started doing tests including a CT scan and an MRI scan.

Katie Scannell with parents Jason and Michelle, and brother Harry

Katie Scannell with parents Jason and Michelle, and brother Harry

‘Katie was then transferred to critical care. It was all such a rush, it had been a normal afternoon, we had dinner plans and then a few hours later she was in critical care.’

The test results came back and Jason and Michelle were given the devastating news that Katie had a secondary metastatic brain tumour and doctors did not know how long she had left to live.

Jason added: ‘We decided not to tell Katie about the brain tumour. She couldn’t remember what had happened in critical care or the tests that had been done.

‘Knowing the cancer was back would have devastated her.

‘She was really pleased about being in part remission so we didn’t want to tell her she had terminal cancer.’

Instead, Katie was told she needed treatment for her seizures.

Katie Scannell in happier times

Katie Scannell in happier times

She spent a further two weeks at QA Hospital and then returned home just before Christmas to be looked after by her parents with support from the Community Children’s Nursing Team in Portsmouth, run by Solent NHS Trust.

The family were also helped by Chestnut Tree House, a children’s hospice in Arundel.

Katie was at home for seven weeks with her parents and brother Harry, 18, before she died.

Michelle said: ‘We wanted to spend those weeks just us as a family because we knew Katie had limited time.

‘She remained strong and positive throughout, that will be her legacy.’

Katie was a huge fan of pop artist Ariana Grande and her hospital room was decked out with posters, perfumes, and pictures of the singer.

After she died, Katie’s friends shared a picture of her with her Ariana Grande merchandise on social media and it was shared by the musician with the message: ‘Rest in peace Katie my baby, my heart is with you.’

Jason added: ‘Katie would have loved that.’

Katie’s funeral is being held on Monday.