Tayla Bonnie Hancock was due to turn 18 on the 24th of December 2011. Sadly she passed away on the 16th of September 2010 from cancer. Early on in 2008, Tayla began complaining of a sore knee. After a visit to the local doctor she was referred to a podiatrist.

She was fitted for orthotics and had regular visits to the clinic. However the swelling increased and the pain was becoming unbearable. Finally she was referred for x-rays on her knee. On the 2nd of December 2008 Tayla was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. The x-rays revealed a large tumour on her left knee and femur.

Just before her 15th birthday and Christmas she had surgery to insert a port and was started on intense chemotherapy. Tayla was in immense pain from the cancer and surgery, very ill from the treatment and needed high doses of pain relief. A month later while out of hospital her knee fractured.

For the next week she was heavily medicated and had surgery to straighten and plaster her leg, while the medical team decided what was to be the next step. On the 31st of January 2009 Tayla’s leg was amputated. After a very short recovery time she then continued with chemotherapy. While in treatment she was measured and fitted with a prosthetic leg.

The treatment, along with numerous hospital admissions and learning to walk on her new leg, was a painful, frustrating, sad and emotional time. It was so much for a young teenager to cope with. Tayla was determined to look normal and fit in, so another challenge was buying clothes and shoes that were fashionable and that would fit her prosthetic leg and foot. She was looking forward to finishing her treatment, getting well and going back to school without the use of her crutches. She made this her goal and she strived to achieve it.

Tayla became excited about spending time with her friends and putting the nightmare behind her, but always in the back of her mind were the many challenges that lay ahead. Finally treatment ended but she was very anxious about scans that were due about six weeks later.

Tayla proceeded to get ready for school to start the New Year in February 2009. New uniforms, books etc where purchased. Then, on the day before school was due to start again, she was told the devastating news that numerous tumours were found in both lungs. Her world came crashing down again, but she would still not show her anger and grief.

We decided as a family that the best thing for us all was to move closer to the hospital as we were living nearly an hour away. Tayla didn’t start school. Instead she was admitted back into hospital to start an even more intense trial chemotherapy which lasted a couple of months. She suffered all the same side effects as before - nausea, vomiting, ulcers, infections - just to name a few. There came another nerve-racking wait for scans which again showed tumours in the lungs. Tayla underwent two major operations to remove these tumours only to discover, after another painful recovery, that they had returned. We were told there was nothing else that could be done.

Despite Tayla’s deteriorating health and energy, she spent her last few weeks creatively writing about her experience, describing her feelings, writing a blog, poems, letters to her loved ones and deciding what she wanted at her funeral. She was and still is, inspirational for so many people, displaying a maturity and strength well beyond her years, providing support for others and refusing to let her fears and pain dominate her last days.

Tayla Bonnie passed away at 10am on 16th September 2010.