I was devastated when my beautiful tot, Anya, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given just weeks to live. But my little girl was a fighter…
By Naomi Stanley, 28, from Chester
Anya was a late walker and wasn’t up on her feet until 16 months.
She hadn’t been toddling for long though before I noticed that she wouldn’t put any weight on her left side.
Doctors were mystified and ran a series of tests, even operating on her hip and later her pelvis before an oncologist spotted a tiny little spot behind her kidney following an MRI.
That’s when the bombshell hit: our beautiful girl had stage 4 neuroblastoma.
I felt sick when doctors explained that the cancer kills more under fives than any other type of cancer – and it had already spread to Anya’s bones.
My husband Graeme and I were utterly devastated and were told to brace ourselves as our little girl embarked on the fight of her life.
Anya underwent aggressive chemotherapy but doctors weren’t hopeful, so in October 2012, as her fragile little body lay limp and helpless, Graeme made the heart-wrenching decision to film her all day, in the belief that it was likely to be her last.
We clicked the video camera on and watched our daughter’s last moments… but then, something incredible happened.
At 9pm that night Anya woke up, bright as button, and climbed onto my lap.
“Mummy, I want some toast!” she demanded.
We’d underestimated our brave little girl. The fight was on.
Against all the odds, Anya rallied. Just six days after a major operation to remove the tumour behind her kidney, she grabbed a toy sword from home and charged around, yelling: “I am strong!”
She certainly is. Anya is our very own warrior princess.
Sadly, many children with neuroblastoma don’t finish their therapy as the cancer either advances or the treatment is too toxic for their little bodies.
But after a year-and-a-half of aggressive treatment, our little fighter is thriving.
Anya has just finished her immunotherapy treatment and although there will be side-effects and she’ll never be able to have children, we’re so proud of her.
Now we’re raising money for children’s charity Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Alliance so that funds are available if Anya ever needs more treatment that she can’t get on the NHS.
We’ve been told that, sadly, 80 percent of children do have a relapse, usually in the first two years after treatment.
Anya’s appeal will remain open in case she does ever need more life-saving treatment, but also to raise awareness of neuroblastoma.
We can’t know what the future holds, but we’re so proud our warrior daughter took on the fight of her life – and won.
Click here to donate to Anya’s appeal.