Brave Victoria kicked cancer... now she is a winner on and off the pitch
ONLY a few months ago, Victoria Wilsoncroft was screaming out in pain from her hospital bed as the gruelling effects of chemotherapy kicked in.
Now, any screaming from the 15-year-old is done on a football pitch.
Victoria, a goalkeeper for Pride Park Juniors FC, was told in August that her body was cancer-free – three months after diagnosis, a point when 19 "pea-size" lumps had emerged in her neck.
Thankfully her treatment was a success, paving the way for her to return to the pitch.
The speed of her recovery was remarkable, as was the fact she rarely had time off school as she underwent chemotherapy.
And she is continuing to inspire all who know her by now turning her focus to fund-raising for the Teenage Cancer Trust, while encouraging others to do the same.
The John Flamsteed pupil was nominated for a Young Achievers prize by one of her teachers, who said she was a "shining example of all that is brave and positive in young people".
Last night, Victoria, a Derby County fan, collected her award from ex-Rams skipper Robbie Savage. Watching on was Victoria's mum, Sally Wilsoncroft, who said she could not be prouder.
Sally, 46, said: "I'm so proud of her. It's so deserved. I don't think she realises what she's gone through – and she's never moaned."
Victoria's nightmare with cancer started in January when small lumps began appearing in her neck.
At first, doctors told her it was nothing to worry about. But when more lumps grew she was given a scan, which led to the cancer diagnosis.
Sally said: "The whole family was devastated. We just sat around crying. At school, the teacher took her friends into a separate classroom and told them the news. They were absolutely devastated too.
"She had just started her GCSEs when she was diagnosed. We got the news and then she had to take two exams. I asked the teacher if she could retake the exams if she didn't do well but it turned out that wouldn't be necessary because she had just got on with it and got good grades."
Victoria, who lives in Kilburn with her parents and is the second eldest of four daughters, said it took her a while to accept the bad news.
"It didn't really sink in until I started chemotherapy," she said.
Asked how she felt when her hair began falling out as a result of the treatment, she simply said: "Horrible. I didn't wash it for two weeks because doing so made it fall out."
Frustrated, Victoria eventually decided to take control of the situation and shaved her head, so as to not allow clumps of hair to fall out in stages.
But she could do nothing to control the pain she endured after undergoing rounds of chemotherapy at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre.
Recalling her daughter's suffering, Sally said: "There was one night in the hospital when she was screaming the hospital down.
"It was heartbreaking. She was in so much pain and I couldn't do anything for her. The doctors gave her anti-sickness tablets but the side effects were terrible. It made her look like she had suffered a stroke."
While in hospital, Victoria's family and friends managed to raise £3,000 for the ward she was in, as well as for CLIC Sargent – a charity that supports children and young people with cancer.
The money was raised on a single day through stalls, a BBQ, a raffle and donations.
Hundreds attended the fund-raising event and it inspired Victoria to do likewise once she was well again. With the help of some classmates, she organised an autumn fair that raised money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
And of course she is back to playing football – much to the relief, it would appear, of her teammates.
Before her return, the team was on a losing streak that included a 9-0 defeat to a side from Alfreton. But with Victoria back in goal, her team is back to winnings ways.
It's just one more reason why Victoria is so deserving of a Young Achievers award.