NEWS

Leukemia fighter keen to meet royals

05/20/2012 09:27 EDT | Updated 07/20/2012 05:12 EDT

An Ontario girl whose high-profile battle against cancer has inspired thousands will get a chance to share her story with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall when the royals visit Toronto.

"I'm a little nervous and a little excited," Alysha Dykstra, 8, told CBC News when asked about presenting flowers to Prince Charles and Camilla when they visit Lt.-Gov. David Onley at Queen's Park, the Ontario legislature.

For the past three years, the Grade 3 student has been the face of One Match, the Canadian Blood Services program responsible for finding and matching volunteer donors with patients who require stem cell transplants.

In January 2009, Operation Alysha was formed as a social action group to build awareness of the need to donate blood, while promoting One Match, which maintains a database of bone marrow stem cells in the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Alysha, who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia four years ago, is in remission despite a failed stem cell transplant, a tribute to her brave battle against the often fatal disease.

Operation Alysha has been instrumental in raising awareness that more stem cell donors are needed, a CBS spokeswoman said.

Fewer than 30 per cent of patients who need stem cell transplants find a compatible donor within their own family, CBS says on its website. The rest rely on those who have volunteered to donate stem cells to anyone in need.

"You might be able to save someone's life who [has] cancer," Alysha said. "Because someone saved my life."

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