The parents of a Waverton girl who bravely battled and beat a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer have spoken of their joy as they watched their daughter walk through the school gates for the very first time.
Anya Bentham, four, was just 19-months-old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma in October 2012.
Following months of gruelling treatment, Anya, was given the all-clear from the disease but doctors warned the fight was not over, as relapse rates in children were very high.
Parents Graeme and Naomi then made an almost impossible decision and signed their daughter up for a pioneering drug trial in America to help stop the neuroblastoma returning.
Twelve months into the trial, Anya remains cancer free, and this week the family were overjoyed to mark a huge milestone as the youngster started school for the first time.
Graeme said: “She’s our little walking miracle.
“It still hasn’t sunk in.”
The proud dad says Anya is doing half days at the moment and will start full time in the next fortnight.
He added: “She absolutely loves it. She was so excited before hand, not nervous at all.
“She’s a really clever little girl, bright as a button, she spent lots of time reading in hospital and is really academic.
“It’s nerve wrecking for us as parents, as I’m sure it is for all parents watching their child start school for the first time, but we’re so proud.”
After Anya’s diagnosis, Graeme and Naomi quickly launched a campaign to find the cash that could potentially save their daughter’s life, and with the help of friends, family and strangers raised more than £260,000 for the Anya Bentham Appeal.
A post on the appeal’s Facebook page has been liked by more than 4,000 people.
It reads: “A huge milestone was passed today, one we had never ever dared to dream of. Our little girl, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma at 19 months old took her first steps in ‘big school’ this afternoon.
“After nine months of chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumour, high dose chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, countless scans, general anaesthetics, bone marrow biopsies and a US trial to prevent relapse (still ongoing), Anya started her schooling equal to her peers. She has fought long and hard to just to be able to do the things we as parents take for granted that will happen. We couldn’t have been more prouder as she gave us hugs, told us she was OK and went off to play!”