Family to compete in Stevenage Race For Life for Hitchin cancer victim, 15

Zoe (centre) with mum Julia and sister Amy

Zoe (centre) with mum Julia and sister Amy - Credit: Archant

A SCHOOLGIRL is battling a cancer which is so rare her doctors have not been able to put a name to it.


.... - Credit: Archant

Zoe Alcock, 15, from Codicote, was diagnosed with a type of ovarian cancer last October after a scan revealed a tumour the size of a melon was causing a range of symptoms, including feeling tired and nauseous.

The Hitchin Girls’ School pupil faced major surgery and had to fight a life-threatening infection before recovering at home.

During a regular MRI scan, doctors recently found the cancer had returned near her bowel and Zoe was due to have further surgery on Wednesday.

The teenager and her family are encouraging people to support Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life and want as many women as possible to enter the Stevenage event at Fairlands Valley Park at 11am tomorrow (Sunday).

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Zoe had been eager to take part with her mum, Julia, and godmother Mary Dootson but because she is in hospital her sister Amy, 17, is taking her place.

Her story has raised more than £7,000 so far.

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In June last year Zoe became concerned at feeling “something bouncing around inside” her as she walked down a hill.

Further symptoms, including bloating and missing her period, prompted her parents to seek medical advice and within hours she was preparing to have major surgery to remove the tumour.

Zoe said: “At first they thought it was a cyst and it was a massive shock when they told me I had cancer – the biggest shock of my life.

“With breast cancer I knew to look out for lumps but I had no idea about the warning signs for ovarian cancer.”

Following surgery, Zoe spent two weeks in Lister Hospital, Stevenage, fighting a life-threatening infection.

Describing how she reacted when she was told the cancer had returned she said: “I couldn’t breathe, it was such a shock.

“A scan about a month ago had been clear but when they looked at it again they saw the cancer had returned.

“One minute I was clear, the next I was not.

“Doctors are trying to safeguard my fertility and are going to try and remove the tumour without having to remove my ovary.”

Mum Julia, deputy headteacher at The Thomas Alleyne School in Stevenage, said: “Zoe has a very rare form of ovarian cancer, so rare that doctors have been unable to put a name to it.

“The first tumour they removed was the size of a melon. When she started having regular scans after the surgery she had a dark cloud hanging over her waiting for the results.

“It got her down, as it would anybody, but now she is stronger and she has a very positive outlook.”

Julia is expecting Race for Life to be emotional. She said: “We entered when Zoe was first diagnosed to raise money so more research can be done into rare cancers like hers.

“It is also so important to raise awareness of ovarian cancer for women of all ages. If I had known the symptoms - including bloating, eating less, feeling sick, frequent visits to the toilet and missing periods - she could have been diagnosed earlier.”

To support Zoe and her family, visit

Keep checking the Comet website for Race For Life updates and send your pictures to

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