An ‘inspirational’ three-year-old who is fighting off a rare form of cancer has left hospital to spend Christmas at home with her family.
Keira Lisher, from Haywards Heath, was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML)in May.
She is on the road to recovery after a bone marrow transplant, and is in remission.
Kiera’s mum, Yvette, said: “We didn’t think we would be able to take her home for Christmas, as long as she doesn’t get any infections now she’ll be home. She loves Christmas.”
On Monday Keira helped launch the Gatwick Airport Christmas appeal which supports Cancer Research UK, The Chestnut House Hospice and Gatwick TravelCare.
Yvette continued: “When she saw Santa she wouldn’t leave him alone!
“She’s been amazing, she’s been so resilient. Most of the time she’s been running around. Apart from the shaved head you wouldn’t think she was ill, she’s been so strong.”
Juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML) is a very rare type of slowly developing chronic blood disorder that occurs in young children.
It can cause fatigue, bruising easily, nosebleeds and bleeding gums, fever, infections, enlarged liver and spleen, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes and small yellowish skin tumours.
“She is a tiny little girl so for her even taking her blood pressure was mayhem,” Yvette said.
“I was in absolute shock, when she started chemo it started to hit me hard.
“She’s been an inspiration,” Yvette added.
Keira is one of Cancer Research UK’s Little Stars and this year received an award for courage shown during cancer treatment.
Yvette, who has two other children, Chloe, five, and Jack, 18 months, said: “I never, never thought for one minute it would be cancer. To this day, I still can’t bring myself to call it cancer, I just say leukaemia.”
Keira underwent chemotherapy treatment and needed a stem cell transplant.
She lost her hair, suffered temperature spikes, and her Hickman line, a catheter used to deliver drugs, became infected and she was rushed to intensive care for three weeks. Following the transplant Keira was left with no immune system and had to spend three weeks in isolation to avoid infection.
Yvette said: “Before she was ill, she was quite a quiet, timid little girl. Not any more, now she has grown not only in size but in attitude.
“I think she knows far more than a three-year-old should. But that is because she has spent so much time around adults and she is familiar with all the medical terms used around her.”
Keira still goes for regular weekly checks at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton.
Keira and her mum are also encouraging others to nominate children for a Little Star award, a partnership between Cancer Research UK and fashion retailer TK Maxx.
Visit cruk.org/littlestar to nominate.
Thanks to research and improved treatments, overall survival has doubled in the last 40 years and three-quarters of children with cancer are successfully cured compared to only a quarter in the early 1970s.