When it comes to courage and strength of will, few people can match the bravery of little Anya Bentham. The Chester toddler has spent more than 18 months being treated for cancer but this week, her parents received the news they had been praying for.
Sam Yarwood reports on Anya getting the all clear and looks back to the moment the heartbreaking diagnosis was first made:
In October 2012, three-year-old Anya Bentham was diagnosed with the aggressive childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
Her brave battle against the disease captured the hearts of thousands across the country and more than a quarter of a million pounds was raised to help support her and her family during her treatment.
This week, Anya’s mum Naomi Stanley posted on Facebook to say that they had finally received the news they had been praying for – Anya had been given the all clear from the cancer and was officially in remission.
She wrote: “We have had our life controlled by cancer for 50,025,600 seconds, or 833,760 minutes, or even 13,896 hours, which makes 579 days of being gripped with terror.
“Watching our daughter suffer through horrendous treatments, in agony from an aggressive disease, trying to destroy her body one cell at a time, has been the most cruellest and life altering journey.”
She added: “We are truly blessed to share with you all of Anya's end of treatment tests/scan results...ALL CLEAR!”
Dad Graeme Bentham, who grew up in Widnes and lived in Connah’s Quay before moving to Waverton
in Chester, spoke of the family’s relief at the news, and what comes next for little Anya.
He said: “We believe that a lot of people have been inspired by Anya’s story.
“We have always been frightened of the word ‘cancer’ and the way Anya has battled through to get the all clear is amazing.
“It’s been such a cruel situation and that’s why people have been so touched – we still can’t believe the amount of money that has been raised – and we’ve been completely blown away by the response from our post on Facebook telling people that Anya had been given the all clear.”
Graeme explained that Anya will still have to be tested regularly to make sure there are no signs of relapse but that the tests carried out would be much less intrusive.
He added: “We feel as if we have all been kidnapped for the past 18 months and now we have been released - we don’t know what to do. “We keep thinking, we’re supposed to have appointments, but we don’t, all of Anya’s planned treatments are finished.
“We can actually start to make plans again and take Anya to the park and to see her friends.
“We are so thankful for where we are. We feel happy and relieved and blessed that she got through.”
The toddler will soon have her central line removed meaning that she is able to go swimming without her specially made full body suit.
“It hurts us as parents knowing that she has missed out but the central line will be out soon and she can go and splash around and have fun.
“It’s time to get on with our lives and keep praying that we don’t see any signs of it coming back.
“We will continue to fundraise. Things slowed down a bit when Anya was having her immunotherapy treatment as it was so intense.
“We want everyone to know that the appeal still continues and hope people can help keep raising money for neuroblastoma and the charity.”