Ella keeps running in her sights

18:11, Feb 02 2014
Ella Benn
STILL SMILING: Ella Benn, 10 had 14 centimetres of her leg amputated in late January to beat bone cancer. Her foot was reattached backwards for her ankle joint to act as her knee joint.

Within four months, Ella Benn represented Canterbury in running, was diagnosed with bone cancer and had part of a leg amputated.

However, the 10-year-old Clearview Primary pupil is positive it is just part of her life journey - and she is determined to run again.

Last year, Ella's knee started aching.

She put it down to training for cross country nationals.

When the pain increased and her running times got slower, Ella and her parents knew something was wrong.

A physiotherapist treated her, but the pain caused her to cry and she was not improving.


Their family doctor told them to see another physiotherapist so they went to SportsMed.

Realising something was seriously wrong, the physiotherapist referred them to get an X-ray.

They were driving home when they got a phone call to come back. Ella had osteosarcoma - bone cancer.

The next week was a whirlwind of doctor's visits, bone scans, biopsies, and starting chemotherapy.

Walking into the hospital, it was awful to realise how many young children were facing similar battles, Andy Benn said.

''It makes your heart cry to see the kids there.''

The Benns decided Ella should have a Van-ness rotationplasty - where a portion of the leg is amputated.

Ella's ankle joint became her knee joint and she should be able to run again with the help of a prosthetic.

Ella, who rattles off her hospital identification number off by heart, said there was no time for negative thoughts.

''I'm a happy person. So I stay positive.''

The smiling girl, who was named Clearview Primary's year 5 sportswoman of the year, hopes to run cross-country again.

She is also determined to become a swimmer, maybe even a paralympian.

Andy Benn said everyone at the hospital had been fantastic, and he was indebted to the Child Cancer Foundation.

''She's got cancer. There's nothing we can do about it but if, by talking about this, there is any chance that even one marvellous kid is helped...then it's worth it.''

He said 99.9 per cent of the time knee pain was likely to be growing pains, but if any parent was worried they should get another opinion.

Sandi Benn said they were hoping to get a ''beach leg'' and a ''running leg'' to ensure their energetic daughter could be as active as possible. However, it was an extra cost.

On Friday, Ella will go into hospital again to have 70 stitches removed. The family are still waiting for some test results which will determine if Ella has to have 18 or 28 weeks more chemotherapy.

To donate to raising funds for Ella's prosthetic legs and medical costs go to http://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/EllasJourney

The Press