For brave Holly Hutchings, it will be the best possible Christmas gift – spending the festive season at home with her family after successfully battling a rare form of cancer.
After months of gruelling treatment, including 23 rounds of chemotherapy, the four-year-old is gleefully looking forward to celebrating the big day with her parents, who describe her as their ‘little Christmas miracle’.
Holly’s mother Sarah, 28, said: ‘This Christmas will be very emotional for us. The whole ordeal has made us cherish every precious moment we have. She has been the one who has kept us going, smiling and laughing.’
Holly Hutchings, aged four, suffered from a rare type of cancer and had to ensure 23 rounds of chemotherapy over the course of 27 weeks
The family, from Kingswinford, West Midlands, saw their world turned upside down last Christmas Eve when Holly woke in the early hours suffering from pain in her stomach and back. Sarah and her husband Kyle, 31, an accountant, rushed her to hospital. Tests revealed Holly had an infection and she was sent home with antibiotics.
Sarah said: ‘She spent Christmas Day crying in pain. It wasn’t the dream family Christmas I had hoped for.’
Finally, an ultrasound scan in March revealed Holly had a Wilms’ tumour on her right kidney that was pushing her stomach up into her lungs, causing her left kidney to double in size to keep her alive. This type of cancer affects about 80 children in Britain every year.
Holly had a seven-hour operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to remove her right kidney.
She also had to endure 27 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy, which caused allergic reactions and severe sickness.
Sarah, who gave up her job as a business development manager to care for her daughter, said: ‘Throughout it all, she always had a smile on her face and she would enjoy painting while she stayed on the ward.’
To mark the end of her treatment, the youngster was allowed to ring a bell on the ward in celebration of her bravery. Sarah said: ‘It signalled a new chapter for us as a family.’
Holly’s mother Sarah, 28, (pictured) has hailed her daughter’s recovery as a ‘Christmas miracle’
Although Holly is now in remission, it will take six months for her immune system to recover. She has started school part-time and visited Santa in Lapland thanks to the Make-A-Wish charity.
Sarah, who also has a one-year- old son called Joshua, said: ‘Holly is very excited for Christmas. She has asked Santa for a new bike.’
Sarah and Kyle are now increasing awareness of childhood cancers with the help of charities such as the Grace Kelly Ladybird Trust, and are raising money designing and selling T-shirts.