How Ellie’s ‘daftness’ beat cancer

Cancer survivor Ellie Roberts. Photo by Neil Cross.
Cancer survivor Ellie Roberts. Photo by Neil Cross.

When Elspeth Roberts was diagnosed with leukaemia her skin was bright yellow so she compared herself to a Minion from the film Despicable Me.

This was typical of Elspeth’s sense of humour which got her through the hardest battle of her life.

Now the bubbly 34-year-old from Morecambe has beaten the killer disease and seen her business – which helps children with additional needs express themselves through drama – go from strength to strength.

With help from her family and team of volunteers, she continued to run Wise Up from her hospital bed during treatment even when worried nurses told her to put her lap top away.

“When I was diagnosed the business was just about to take off,” said Elspeth, also known as Ellie. “I’d gone from being a one woman band with a couple of volunteers to there being 12 of us. For seven weeks I was really unwell. I was bright yellow and had bruises all over me. I went to the doctors and in September last year I was diagnosed.”

Ellie had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) an aggressive cancer of the myeloid cells which perform a number of different functions, such as fighting bacterial infections, defending the body against parasites and preventing the spread of tissue damage.

“I started chemotherapy within two days,” said Ellie.

“I had no immune system. I couldn’t run my business. I couldn’t be around children. A lot of it has been run without me.”

Ellie had chemotherapy treatment for five months. She was told that having a rare chromosome meant she didn’t need a bone marrow transplant. She also fought off an infection which at one point, left her one degree away from a coma and with her life hanging in the balance.

But Ellie is now in remission and firmly believes this was helped by her positive attitude and what she calls her “daft” personality.

“The first lot of chemo was awful but I’ve remained very calm. I had a lovely rapport with the hospital staff, I wouldn’t have got through it without them. At Christmas I arrived in a hat with Dennis the Menace hair, pretending my hair had grown back. That’s what got me through it, being a bit silly. My mum Sue, my friend Jo Gibson, my amazing family, Ward E at Blackpool Hospital, my Wise Up team, Cancer Care and the local community have all supported me. I feel blessed. There is a three per cent chance of it coming back and I believe it won’t. Since April I’ve been trying to live a normal life.”

To show her appreciation to CancerCare, who she said have been “incredible” during her treatment, Ellie has been raising money for the Lancaster charity. She has also thrown herself back into running Wise Up.

“We help people of all ages through drama, help children who can’t express themselves very well, work in schools, teach communication skills because I believe we’ve all got a story to tell.”

Ellie’s right, and her own story is more remarkable than most.

For more details on Wise Up go to www.wiseupworkshops.com