There has been an outpouring of grief following the announcement that Alexandra 'Ya Ya' Johnston lost her bravely borne battle with cancer.
Alexandra (16) from Claudy, Derry, sadly passed away yesterday at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children surrounded by her family after a five year battle with Ewings Sarcoma.
Alexandra shared her experience battling the illness on her Facebook page Just Keep Swimming Ya Ya.
Yesterday evening, Alexandra’s dad Andre Johnston took to the Facebook page to thank everyone for their support over the past five years.
“Many of you will already have heard the news but it has taken the Johnston family some time today to acknowledge our loss.
“A lot of you have been on this journey with us for 4 1/2 years and been inspired laughed and now shed a tear as the most amazing inspirational brave and talented young lady is shining amongst the stars tonight,” he writes.
Doctors had told Alexandra that she wouldn’t see her 16th birthday, which was on New Year’s Day.
Defying the odds, Alexandra celebrated her sweet sixteenth and received thousands of birthday cards from across the globe following a world record attempt for the most amount of birthday cards received with the help of the Belfast Telegraph.
“She has left an indelible mark on many lives, changed lives and enriched people’s hearts all over the world.
“We as a family took strength from all messages of support, cards, gifts and Facebook posts shared throughout our journey. Thank you all.”
Alexandra’s wake will begin today and will repose until Sunday at 6 Miller’s Close, Claudy.
“We expect a lot of people so we would ask for no visitors before 11am and after 11pm,” Andre says.
Alexandra’s funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.