Mum of 'fearless' Leeds girl who beat rare cancer has this message of hope as she starts secondary school
Kendal Middleton-Jessop was just two years old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had spread through her body.
Her devastated parents were given a 40 per cent chance that she would survive treatment for stage four Neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that mostly affects babies and young children, but they refused to give up hope.
The brave toddler survived, but she relapsed two years later - spending five years in and out of hospital as she went through gruelling treatment.
Now 11 years old, "fearless" Kendal has been given the all-clear and is living her life to the full, her mum Laine told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Laine is spreading a message of hope to families affected by cancer in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, as she works to raise awareness of the rare condition.
The 39-year-old, of Swarcliffe, said: “At that time, there were no trials for Neuroblastoma - so when Kendal relapsed at four years old, they gave us the option to take her home to die.
“That was never an option for me and I said we were willing to fight on.
“I still believe there needs to be a lot more awareness on children’s cancer - there's not enough money going into research."
Faced with a slim chance of Kendal surviving the relapse, her parents raised an incredible £250,000 to get her onto a potentially life-saving trial only available in Germany and the USA.
But Kendal survived after five years of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and stem cell transplants - and the cash was donated to charities that help other children in need.
“She did years of solid treatment and it still has its effects now," Laine said.
“She had it in her stomach, so it’s likely she can’t have children, her lungs could be affected - there’s a lot of things that are coming up now from the treatment alone.
“But Kendal being Kendal, when you look at her you’d think she’s fine - just like a normal child.
“She doesn’t let it affect her and she just gets on with it.”
Kendal was given the all-clear aged nine and has just started secondary school, an emotional moment for Laine, Kendal's dad Stuart and her three brothers.
"Kendal is just fearless, I think because of what she's been through," Laine added.
"We went to Newquay recently and she was out on a surfboard, my dad had to get her back in because she went too far out - she’s not scared of anything."
As the nation marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Laine is determined to use her platform to help other families affected by cancer and other life-limiting conditions.
The family has donated thousands of pounds to charities such as the Amelia Mae Foundation, which supports children with Neuroblastoma, and Laine is currently fundraising for the family of a Leeds girl who died from a heart condition.
Laine said: "As awful as it was, it’s made me see life in a different light.
“I didn't have hope when Kendal got diagnosed. Since her diagnosis, there’s been a lot of children in our area who have been diagnosed with the same disease.
“We want them to see a story that’s had a good outcome.
“Never give up and try to stay as positive as you can. You know your own child, and sometimes you need to go with your own instincts and what you feel is right."
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