Stubbington girl with rare terminal cancer living a ‘lifetime of experiences’ in next few months

Sophie Fairall, nine years old from Stubbington, has a rare cancer that is now terminal. Photo: Charlotte Fairall

Sophie Fairall, age nine, was diagnosed last September with rhabdomyosarcoma — a rare cancer that forms in children’s soft tissues, such as skeletal muscle.

She has now been told her condition is terminal and has one to six months to live.

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Through her bucket list, Sophie Fairall must meet Gordon Ramsay, left, and would like to meet Olivia Rodrigo, right. Images: Getty Images/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

But Sophie, from Stubbington, won’t let her illness slow her down and is determined to live life to the fullest with the time she has left.

She works through a bucket list that includes feeding penguins, cooking with Gordon Ramsay and meeting singer Olivia Rodrigo.

Sophie’s mother, Charlotte, is amazed at her daughter’s resilience and maturity, showing a wisdom beyond her early years.

She said, “We’ve had a lot of conversations with her. She knows what’s going on and what it means, but wants to focus on taking each day as it comes.

Pictured: Sophie Fairall

“Sophie is honestly just incredible. She still goes to school regularly and is bursting with energy, every day.

“You look at her and it’s hard to believe she’s dying.”

Initially, doctors thought that Sophie’s abdominal pain was due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or food intolerance.

But after doctors found a lump that needed to be removed, they discovered parts of a tumor that couldn’t be removed.

Sophie Fairall, nine years old from Stubbington, has a rare cancer that is now terminal. Photo: Charlotte Fairall

Most of Sophie’s bucket list has already been completed or is lined up – and she’s especially looking forward to cooking with Gordon Ramsay.

The nine-year-old is excited to show the celebrity chef her scrambled egg recipe.

She also wants to spend an adult day, driving to work, cooking dinner when she gets home, and cleaning the house.

According to mom Charlotte, Tesco, Morrisons and Cineworld have all offered her services.

The only outstanding items on Sophie’s bucket list are a visit to Australia and a meeting with Olivia Rodrigo.

But the young person also wants to bring about real change in the health care system with which she has become well-versed.

Charlotte said: “Having been in hospital so many times – both in Portsmouth and Southampton – there are a few things she’s noticed that she’d like to help change.

“Sophie wants food to be improved in the hospital and for parents to be fed when they are with their children.

“At Southampton General Hospital they have a games specialist, but it’s only Monday to Friday, so she would like to see that become a seven-day position.”

The family also raises money for Alice’s Ark, the only charity specifically researching rhabdomyosarcoma.

At the time of going to press, the family has raised over £46,800, split between completing Sophie’s bucket list and donating to charity.

“We honestly can’t thank people enough for their support,” said Charlotte.

“Only five percent of regular charities go to childhood cancer research, so we wanted to donate to a charity that directly helps people like Sophie.”

Natalie Mansbridge, who lives near Stonehenge, is Charlotte’s sister, Sophie’s aunt and mother of one.

She said: ‘We posted the bucket list on Sophie’s Journey Facebook page and we practically fulfilled it.

“We’ve had a fantastic response from the community with everyone who has helped, many people have donated.

“Andy Vaughn, a good friend of the family, tries to go through them all and gets a timetable for all the events.

‘Thank you to all the Stubbington area, they were great.

“We can send her away in style.”

Natalie says the family is very close and the news of Sophie’s terminal diagnosis is devastating.

She said: ‘It was a huge shock. You never expect to hear that children are going to die, especially not one this lively, active and funny.

“She’s the life and soul or whatever party and event, she’s always smiling.”

Now the family hopes to raise money to help other children with cancer.

Natalie said: ‘What would be really appreciated – there is such a lack of research into childhood cancer and Sophie’s cancer, and what would be really appreciated is support for the fundraising.

“We’re trying to raise money for Alice’s Ark, a charity that researches the specific cancer Sophie has. We want to get an inheritance for Sophie.’

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron

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