THE family of a three-year-old Monkstown girl who overcame cancer have backed a campaign to recognise the bravery of other young sufferers diagnosed with the illness.
Leia Skelly’s family has backed the Cancer Research UK Little Star Awards and is urging the public to support the charity to raise funds to help improve survival rates
Earlier this year, Leia was given a Little Star Award after she was nominated by her family, who said she had been an inspiration to them throughout her treatment.
In March 2011 Leia, at just 20 months old, was diagnosed with stage three kidney cancer.
She was given chemotherapy to shrink the tumour, then surgery to remove the kidney, followed by more chemotherapy.
Leia’s mum Helen said: “Throughout all her treatment Leia was extremely happy and never gave up on being a typical toddler, continuing to annoy her brother and sister.
“Every morning she would gel her hair - even though she had none - alongside her brother and, on one occasion, painted her head with poster paints before putting on her sister’s headband.”
Despite Leia having a line in one hand and probes in the other, she did not let that deter her from the usual antics of toddlers and instead of using her hands the child used her feet to play with her favourite toys.
“I believe every child diagnosed with cancer has a purpose to teach us adults something very important,” continued Helen.
“In Leia’s case her determination not to complain encouraged me to overcome anxiety.
“We are so thankful that she finished her treatment last August and is improving well.
“I would urge all relatives and friends of young cancer patients or survivors to nominate them now for special recognition in the run up to Christmas.”
Last year 14 children in Northern Ireland received a Little Star Award. Unlike other awards, there is no judging panel because Cancer Research UK and TK Maxx believe that each and every child who faces cancer is extra special.
Recipients get a unique trophy, a £50 TK Maxx gift card and a certificate signed by celebrities, including JLS, Mo Farah, Leona Lewis and Steven Gerrard.
The Little Star Awards are open to all under-18s who have cancer or who have been treated for the disease in the last five years.
To nominate a Little Star log on to cruk.org/littlestar.
To donate to Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s cancers text ‘STAR58 £5’ to 70070 to donate £5 from your phone bill.
Text donations are free from any network and 100 per cent of the donation will go to the charity.