12 °CMon, 22

Zoe rings bell to mark end of treatment in America

Rachel McNabb

Reporter:

Rachel McNabb

A Ballymena teenager who is bravely battling a rare form of brain tumour has completed her proton beam therapy treatment in Jacksonville, America.

Zoe Gilmore, aged 16, who underwent 30 treatment sessions at the centre in Florida over the last couple of months, plans to fly home with her family today (July 17).

Zoe was diagnosed in August 2017 with a Craniopharyngioma and had two operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. However, she required further specialist treatment in the form of proton beam therapy in Jacksonville, America.

To mark her last day at the centre, Zoe got to ring a large bell and also gave a graduation speech.

Zoe's family have been fundraising, with the help of the local community, to enable them to stay in America for the duration of her treatment.

Zoe's mother, Michelle said: “Zoe did a graduation speech at the lunch they have at the proton centre and had us all in tears. We are so very proud of her for being so strong and powering through this whole thing so far.

“This is by no means the end of Zoe's journey as she still has a lot of issues to deal with from the tumour, but it is the end of this part of her treatment which will hopefully do its job and stop anymore regrowth.

“At the end of treatment in Jacksonville every patient gets the chance to ring the bell (or chime) and it is so lovely to watch.”

In her graduation speech Zoe said: “I would like to thank my amazing family, I am so grateful that they have supported me through my journey.”

She also thanked the staff of the centre and everyone at home for all their support.

Over the last few months the local community has been rallying together to raise funds for Zoe and her family.

Michelle commented: “We can't thank everyone enough from family, friends, complete strangers, schools and local businesses for all their amazing love and support.

“Zoe still has a long way to go but with everyone behind her we know our girl will be ok. She has been a tower of strength since her diagnosis and during her time in America and we are so very proud of her.”

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