Omagh student who battled serious illness will dance for cancer charity

Medical student John Baxter.

OMAGH student John Baxter – who battled through serious illness five years ago to achieve an astonishing 11 A * grades in his GCSE results – is putting on his dancing shoes to raise funds for  Cancer Focus Family Support service.
The 21-year-old, who is currently studying medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, has joined the line-up for the Cancer Focus NI Strictly Come Dancing at the Movies.  Cancer Focus Family Support service helps local children affected by cancer.
John has been diagnosed with cancer twice: He had leukaemia aged just three and then a brain tumour at 15.
He has also suffered from epilepsy but despite his health setbacks, John continues to live life to the full with the attitude that “there is no point in worrying.”
As a three-year-old John suffered from leukaemia and then a tumour was discovered inside his brain after he suffered a fit at home on Boxing Day 2011.
Just over two weeks later doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast removed what proved to be a malignant tumour.
Known as a rhabdoid meningioma, only a handful of cases have ever been recorded world-wide.
Despite undergoing emergency brain surgery and enduring 30 days of harsh radiotherapy, John was back in the classroom within weeks and went on to achieve GCSE results that put him among the top students in the UK.
That battling spirit is now making its way across the dance floor.
A keen runner, John explained, “I feel super and I’m really enjoying university life.
“The epilepsy is now controlled and I go for MRI scans every six months to check if the tumour is coming back but thankfully all is clear.
“I just get on with things, there is no point in worrying.”
John will be taking part in the Causeway Coast  half marathon later this month to raise money for the Cancer Focus NI Strictly Come Dancing event.
“We had our first rehearsal on Monday night,” he added.
“There are eight couples and we are being coached by a Ballroom Blitz NI teachers.
The final will be at the Stormont Hotel on November 10. I’ve been partnered with Elaine McFarlane who is a pilates instructor from Co Down. It will be a busy schedule with practice every Sunday evening for ten weeks until the final but I am really looking forward to it.”
The dance routines will be selected from the movies but as yet the Omagh student does not know whether he will be a budding Fred Astaire or John Travolta.
He added, “I never danced before so it should be good fun. I am looking forward to learning how to dance.”
Over the course of the training contestants will be raising money through a variety of events.
John’s first event will be a table quiz at the Coach Inn on next Tuesday, September 12 starting at 9.15pm.
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