A Moray teenager battling cancer for the second time has vowed to continue her kickboxing career – even if she has to have her leg amputated.
Dion Yates, from Lossiemouth, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone disease Ewings Sarcoma two years ago.
She underwent a year of intense radiotherapy and chemotherapy and was given the all-clear, but in August doctors broke the news the cancer had returned.
Next week, the 17-year-old will find out if she needs to have an operation to remove half of her pelvis and to amputate her right leg.
But the brave teen is determined not to let her illness stand in her way – and has managed to juggle weekly trips to Newcastle for specialist treatment with competing in the kickboxing ring.
Dion’s inspirational attitude was this week recognised when members of the Empower Martial Arts Club presented her with an honorary black belt for her courage.
And last night, the former Lossiemouth High School pupil vowed to continue with the sport even if her right leg cannot be saved.
She said: “I was just overwhelmed. It was a total surprise so I did have a bit of tears.
“I’ve proved to everyone that I can do it, but I want to keep on proving that I can – even if it’s on one leg then I will do it. I’ve been sparring for so long that I don’t want to give it up.”
Dion was one of the first members of the club when it was formed seven years ago and has been training there ever since.
Instructors are convinced it was only a matter of time for her to go the final step to graduate as a black belt.
However, they did not have the heart to make her go through the gruelling five-hour test due to the pain her legs would suffer from the cancer.
Club owner Lisa Clarkson said: “Whenever she comes in I tell her it’s hands only and no kicking, but she never listens. She never lets on what she is faced with and just gets on with it with a big smile.
“I know Dion has always longed to have a black belt. She was only one belt away and has earned it from everything she has been going through.”
Members of the club have also showed their support by taking part in a 24-hour spar-a-thon that raised £2,500 for the family. Half of the money has gone towards the cost of travelling up and down to Newcastle for treatment, while Dion decided to donate the rest to the Sick Children’s Trust in recognition of the help they have provided.
The teen had enrolled at Moray College to study child care before putting her plans on hold after being diagnosed in the summer.
Her family hope the tumour has been caught early, but mum Kerry admitted it had been a tough few months.
The 38-year-old wiped away tears as she described how proud she was of the way her daughter has persevered.
She said: “The second diagnosis was heartbreaking, just shattering. It seemed that one moment we were celebrating and then it was back again.
“The doctors have told us that when it comes back it usually spreads a lot more than it has so it has been caught early. The tumour is still small.
“We have good weeks and bad weeks but it’s amazing to see that she is always smiling through it.”