Four-year-old excited to start school following 'amazing recovery' from tennis ball sized malignant neck tumour

Undated family handout photo issued by Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust of Jenna Smith, who was born with a tennis ball-sized tumour on her neck. Now aged four, Jenna is set to start school having made an “amazing recovery”. Credit: Press Association Images

A four-year-old girl who was born with a malignant tumour the size of a tennis ball in her neck is set to start school, having made an “amazing recovery”.

Jenna Smith has been through months of chemotherapy and was not able to speak until she was nearly three-years-old due to having a tracheostomy tube.

The tumour, which was so large it had flattened her windpipe, was discovered when her mother, Lisa Smith, 42, was 32 weeks pregnant.

Now aged four, Jenna is ready to start school. Credit: Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust/PA

Doctors feared that Jenna would not be able to breathe when she was delivered, meaning she need an operation to insert a tracheostomy.

However, Ms Smith’s waters broke earlier than expected and the mother, from Penrith, Cumbria, had an emergency caesarean section on March 24, 2014.

“As soon as we got the call [that Ms Smith's waters had broken], everyone pulled together and we had a team of obstetricians, anaesthetists, surgeons, nurses – everyone we needed to make sure that we could carry out critical surgery to Jenna’s airways before delivering her safely," Steven Powell, a consultant surgeon at the Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary recalled.

Jenna had surgery soon after birth to remove the tumor. Credit: PA

Soon after the birth, Jenna had to be taken to the Great North Children’s Hospital to have the tumour removed, and it was discovered it was a malignant mass which would require chemotherapy.

In February 2017 she had the tracheostomy tube removed, enabling her to speak properly, and now remains in remission, following her "amazing recovery", the Royal Victoria Infirmary said.

Jenna's tumour was discovered when her mother was 32 weeks pregnant. Credit: Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust/PA

Describing her daughter’s treatment as a “real rollercoaster ride”, Ms Smith said Jenna is now looking forward to starting reception class at Stainton Primary School in Penrith.

She said: “Looking back on those early days of Jenna’s life, it was horrendous.

“Now, thanks to everyone at the RVI and the Great North Children’s Hospital, we have a beautiful, happy, healthy little girl.

“She is very excited about starting school with her friends from nursery. It’s another big milestone in her short but eventful life.”