Future looking bright for Lily-Mae

The parents of Tiny Dancer Lily-Mae Morrison have told of their “renewed belief” that they will get to enjoy many more Christmas celebrations with their brave daughter in years to come.

This time last year, the courageous five-year-old, who suffers from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, was recovering from a life-saving operation to have a large tumour, which was twisted around her kidney, removed.

Lily-Mae, from Claregalway, Co Galway, also still had dangerous cancer levels and was preparing to undergo weeks of intensive chemotherapy in an isolation unit at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. But her parents Judith Sibley and Leighton Morrison, who also have a three year-old-son, Evan, said they have every reason to be optimistic as they settle down to a family Christmas and look forward to the New Year.

Last October, Lily-Mae was declared cancer-free for the first time in 17 months, after tests revealed no traces of the killer disease.

Just weeks later, she began the first phase of a groundbreaking clinical trial at Helen de Vos hospital in the US. The treatment, called DFMO and designed specifically for children whose cancer is in remission, requires her to travel to the US four times a year for three days at a time — with the next visit scheduled for later next month.

But Judith said her main priority for the moment is to ensure her daughter has a “magical family Christmas”.

“We were in a very different place last Christmas. At that stage things were really bad. The cancer was still there and Lily-Mae was about to be treated in isolation at Crumlin for seven weeks.

“Although we didn’t want to think it, we were thinking the worst last year and were beside ourselves with worry.

“But at the moment she is cancer-free and is looking well and is very happy. We have great hopes for the clinical trial in America and will start next year with much more optimism for the future than was the case this time last year.

“But there is still that fear, and it’s a very realistic fear that the cancer could return at any moment and that’s what we have to be prepared for.

“But for the moment, we as a family couldn’t be happier and we’re going to make sure it’s a Christmas that Lily-Mae will never forget.”

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