AN inspirational teen whose brave fight for life amazes everyone who meets her is set to be one of the Olympic torch bearers when it visits this area next June.
Skegness youngster Starr Halley, 14, was just 12 when she was diangosed with a malignant brain tumour after a routine check up on her eyes spotted something seriously amiss.
In the space of just six-and-a-half hours her normal world came crashing down around her when she was rushed from her eye exam to Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital for emergency MRI scans and told the gut-wrenching news that she had cancer.
She was operated on just four days later in a bout of brain surgery that initially left her unable to walk or speak.
But despite doctors warning that she would be unable to walk for at least six months, she was back on her feet astonishingly quickly and, just six weeks later, she took part in a sponsored walk in Nottingham to raise money for CLIC Sargent.
It was that same plucky determination that helped her make a triumphant return to her school in Spilsby a year later.
Today she is making the most of her life and, although the spectre of the tumour still hovers over her, Starr is determined not to let it win.
It was for this reason that one of her teachers at the King Edward VI Humanities College in Spilsby nominated her to be a torch bearer.
Kate Walker, the college’s head of performing and expressive arts said: “She was just a regular happy go-lucky girl and then out of the blue she started having these headaches.”
“After she was diagnosed she was off school for 18 months and underwent some pretty debilitating chemotherapy treatment.
“She was very, very sick. It is no exaggeration to say she was at death’s door.”
“She pulled through through sheer determination - and all the way through her recovery she spent time fundraising for people in similar situations to herself.
“She’s absolutely inspirational, and that’s why when we were asked if there was anyone we’d like to nominate, I immediately thought of Starr.”
Starr was gobsmacked when she heard the news that she would be one of the bearers of the Olympic flame.
“When I found out I’d been nominated I thought it was just such an honour to be on the list - so to acutally be chosen out of so many people was absolutely amazing.
“I was just shell-shocked.”
“I will carry the torch with so much and pride and joy in my heart. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be involved with something so fantastic.”
Starr added that carrying the flame will be another goal for her to aim for on her road to recovery.
She still has some difficulty walking, and carrying the 800g torch over the 300 metres of her relay section will be a challenge.
But she is already practicing at home using a bag of sugar to match the weight of the hefty flame.
And Starr wants to try to jog the distance when her big day comes round on June 27 next year.
Considering her phenomenal successes so far, there’d be very few out there who’d bet against the brave teen achieving that goal.
- To read more about Starr’s inspirational fight against brain cancer, interviews with her and her mum, and reaction from others who know her, pick up a copy of next week’s Standard, on sale Wednesday, December 14.