'You can't fix it': Eden Taylor-Draper reveals the agony of her younger sister's cancer battle


‘You can’t fix it and you can’t help’: Emmerdale’s Eden Taylor-Draper describes the pain of watching her younger sister Francesca battle cancer


Eden Taylor-Draper described the pain of watching her younger sister Francesca go through a gruelling cancer battle on Tuesday’s episode of Lorraine. 

The Emmerdale star, 23, was in the middle of filming when her dad called her to reveal the devastating diagnosis last year, and took a break from the soap for a month to be at her sister’s side. 

Appearing on the morning show with her – now recovered – sibling by her side, Eden reflected: ‘It was so tough to see someone you love so much and so tiny go through all of that and as much as you’re there supporting them, you can’t fix it and you can’t help.’ 

'You can’t fix it and you can’t help': Emmerdale's Eden Taylor-Draper described the pain of watching her younger sister Francesca battle cancer on Monday's episode of Lorraine

‘You can’t fix it and you can’t help’: Emmerdale’s Eden Taylor-Draper described the pain of watching her younger sister Francesca battle cancer on Monday’s episode of Lorraine 

Francesca, now 17, was just 14 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and endured months of chemotherapy. 

Looking back on the day her dad called her with the sad news, Eden – who plays Belle Dingle on the soap – said:  ‘They [the Emmerdale team] were amazing. We were on tea break and they just said, “Go, anything you need we’re here”

‘I was just in shock. They gave me a month off, so while Ches was in intensive chemo, I could be there. They’re amazing.’ 

Detailing her diagnosis, Francesca explained: ‘I had acute lymphoblastic lymphoma which is a form of blood cancer and at the time of my diagnosis, my cancerous cells were at 97 per cent, so there was only three per cent of my blood that was classed as healthy.’ 

Brave: Francesca, now 17, was just 14 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and endured months of chemotherapy

Brave: Francesca, now 17, was just 14 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and endured months of chemotherapy 

She continued: ‘I felt tired and I lost quite a bit of weight but the most telling thing was I was having these really bad leg pains, like excruciating to the point where I couldn’t walk and I was having to leave school early, and I also had this massive rash on my legs which was when doctors starting thinking it could be something more serious.

‘But a lot of the symptoms were quite generic, which I think is the scary thing about it because feeling tired and a little bit under the weather, your mind would never go to cancer.

Francesca explained that the illness affected her both physically and mentally, she said: ‘Being a teenage girl is hard anyway, and adding cancer to that, I think my mental health took a massive toll.’ 

Eden explained to Lorraine of her sister's cancer battle: 'It was so tough to see someone you love so much and so tiny go through all of that'

Eden explained to Lorraine of her sister’s cancer battle: ‘It was so tough to see someone you love so much and so tiny go through all of that’ 

She added:  ‘I didn’t want to say to my mum and dad that I really couldn’t keep going with treatment – that was one of the things I could speak to the psychologist about.

‘Everyone is affected by it. It wasn’t just me. I saw my family get so upset about it and I think you don’t want to feel like a burden…

‘Not that they would see me in that way, but definitely having a psychologist there or having someone there who isn’t immediate family to speak to is so so helpful.’ 

Sad: The actress revealed she was in the middle of filming as Belle Dingle when her dad called her to reveal the devastating diagnosis

Sad: The actress revealed she was in the middle of filming as Belle Dingle when her dad called her to reveal the devastating diagnosis

Francesca had to endure four rounds of chemotherapy, lost her hair and even contracted sepsis during her treatment.

She stayed on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward at Leeds General Infirmary during her treatment and is now backing the charity’s latest campaign with her sister.  

Eden was also written out of Emmerdale for a month so she could be with her family, and recalled spending hours cuddling Francesca and watching films at her bedside.

Francesca finished her chemotherapy in December 2018, and was still undergoing maintenance treatments and taking daily tablets until September. 

Hopeful: Francesca finished her chemotherapy in December 2018, and was still undergoing maintenance treatments and taking daily tablets until September

Hopeful: Francesca finished her chemotherapy in December 2018, and was still undergoing maintenance treatments and taking daily tablets until September 

WHAT IS LEUKAEMIA?

Leukaemia is a cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, usually the bone marrow.

It leads to the over-production of abnormal white blood cells, which fight off infections. 

But a higher number of white blood cells means there is ‘less room’ for other cells, including red blood cells – which transport oxygen around the body – and platelets – which cause blood to clot when the skin is cut.

There are many different types of leukaemia, which are defined according to the immune cells they affect and how the disease progresses.

For all types combined, 9,900 people in the UK were diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015, Cancer Research UK statistics reveal.

And in the US, around 60,300 people were told they had the disease last year, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

Most cases have no obvious cause, with the cancer not being contagious or inherited.

Leukaemia generally becomes more common with age – the exception being acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which peaks in children.

Other risk factors include being male, exposed to certain chemicals or radiation, and some bone-marrow disorders.

Symptoms are generally vague and get worse over time.

These can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Frequent infections
  • Sweats
  • Bruising
  • Heavy periods, nose bleeds or bleeding gums
  • Palpitations 
  • Shortness of breath

Acute leukaemia – which progresses rapidly and aggressively – is often curable via chemo, radiotherapy or a stem cell transplant.

Chronic forms of the disease – which typically progress slowly – tend to incurable, however, these patients can often live with the disease. 

Source: Leukaemia Care

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