The mother of a schoolgirl who had stage four cancer says her daughter was saved by her twin sister who was like a “guardian angel”.
Foteini Gkatsou was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour, a type of kidney cancer, when she was six year old. The cancer then spread to her lungs.
The Greenwich girl has battled the killer disease for the past six years with the support of her twin sister, Sofia.
Foteini and Sofia’s mother, Sissy Antoniadou, said: “Sofia was like a guardian angel. I do not know what we would have done without her. She was always there by Foteini’s side.
“She completely forgot about herself. They were like the same person. They suffered together.”
Foteini, who was at Bannockburn Primary school at the time, had to have her left kidney and adrenal glands removed and underwent months of grueling chemotherapy.
Sissy, a nurse from Abbey Wood, said: “She was so weak. At one point she was 17 kilos and we had to feed her through a tube.
The chemo transformed her into another child.
“We didn’t think it was going to be a happy ending. We thought we were losing her.
“They became inseparable in their own little world where they didn’t talk about cancer.”
She was treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Greenwich and the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton.
In July, Foteini is set to be discharged from the hospital with her “five years all clear” notice.
Sissy said: “It was like waking from a nightmare, when we were told that the cancer was gone.
“At the same time, you never really feel the same again. It changes the way you look at life.
“The important things are family, friends and health. All other worries seem to disappear.”
The girls are now finishing their first year at Welling School.
Sissy said: “They’re still inseparable. They have chosen to be in different classes, but outside school, they like to do the same things.
They love music and singing. Foteini plays the piano and Sofia the flute.”
Foteini’s cancer experience could influence her career choice.
Sissy said: “She wants to be a scientist and has all sorts of ideas and inventions. She wants to investigate more treatments for sick children so they don’t have such harsh side effects.
“And she wants to invent a super-fast vehicle so she can get to Greece quickly to visit her grandfather. Sofia is interested in becoming an architect.”
On Saturday Sissy, her husband Dimitris and the twins travelled to Hammersmith for Cancer Research UK’s Pretty Muddy Kids event.
They ran a 5km obstacle course and met hundreds of other children who have been affected by cancer.
Sissy, who took part as a supervising adult, said: “It was really overwhelming to know that all these kids we met are trying to fight cancer.”
Other Race for Life Pretty Muddy Kids events will take place on September 9 in Morden, September 16 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, September 30 at Finsbury Park and October 6 in Clapham.
To enter Race for Life Pretty Muddy Kids go to raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.