'˜I'll always be around' - Young cancer victim's last letter

A YOUNG cancer victim left a heartbreaking note to her parents saying, 'I'm not scared of dying, but I'm scared of leaving you'.

Francesca Mancini with her sister Chiara, 5, plus her mum May and dog Chico.

Edinburgh University student Francesca Mancini died just a few weeks before her 21st birthday after losing her fight with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Her mum May, 49, said: “Francesca always thought of other people first. She was so humble, and so thoughtful. That’s why everyone loved her.”

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The Biological Sciences student was diagnosed last year with cancer after doctors found a grapefruit-sized tumour in her chest. She successfully fought off the disease, which went into remission, but it then came back again – yet once more she was able to fight it.

But the disease returned a third time and spread to her lungs and liver. She died last Saturday.

During her struggle Francesca, from Bishopriggs, raised £14,000 for the Beatson Clinic in Glasgow which is dedicated to cancer care. Staff there dubbed her the “princess of the Beatson”.

Francesca told her parents May and Osvaldo in a heartbreaking letter written just days before her death: “I am scared of leaving you.

“But I’ll always be around you. I’ll always be in your hearts.”

May has paid tribute to selfless Francesca, whose only wish was to see her family happy. May said: “She wanted us to buy her sister a puppy and take her to Disneyland to see the Little Mermaid.”

She worked hard to raise awareness for young people with cancer.

Last year she said: “Teenagers get cancer too – teenagers who should be studying and growing up and travelling and getting on with their lives. There are lots of us and I hope by sharing my story I can encourage them and get help for them.”

Despite her poor health, she completed the 6.3 mile Off the Beatson Track walk on August 27.

May said: “She walked over the finish line with her hands in the air. She was amazing.”

Doctors first thought that the Francesca had rheumatoid arthritis, but then found tumours in her lung, pancreas, abdominal lymph nodes and around her heart.

After having chemotherapy and surgery Francesca was in remission, but by Christmas 2015, the cancer had returned.

This time the cancer was pressing on her liver.

Francesca spent three weeks in isolation at the cancer clinic as she underwent radiotherapy and stem cell treatment.

Fifty days later she was in remission again. But the cancer came back.

May said: “She told us she didn’t want to be buried, she wanted to be cremated and for all of her friends to wear bright colours – no black – at her funeral.

“Since she died, so many people have been in touch to say she had such an effect on them. We are amazed by how loved she was and we will forever be proud and grateful for that.”