Watch Lily ring the bell signalling the end of her cancer treatment
A father from the West Country has shared his overwhelming relief at being able to see his three-year-old daughter ring a ceremonial bell signalling the end of her cancer treatment.
Lily Vine, who lives with her family in Wellington, was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancerous tumour on Father's Day last June.
Ewing's sarcoma grows in the bones or the soft tissue around the bones, such as cartilage or nerves, and usually affects people from the ages of 10 to 20.
In Lily's case, it was growing out of her ribs and painfully pressing against her spine.
Thankfully, the type of tumour Lily was diagnosed with has a high rate of being cured.
On 17 March, she finished the last of her radiotherapy treatment at Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital.
Getting to ring the end-of-treatment bell is a huge milestone for cancer patients, symbolising leaving behind harsh procedures and going back to 'normal' life.
Lily's father Will said: “Lily’s outlook has been so strong and determined. She has been so spirited and kept her wicked sense of humour throughout, and that has kept us going.
“She has obviously had some very bad days and moments, and she does get tired with it, but as cruel as it is getting it at her age, she does not know any different."
He continued: “Had she been a few years older she would have been upset about her hair falling out, but she really didn’t care and now says she doesn’t want it to grow back, or if it does she wants it to grow back blue!"
Lily first became poorly in May 2020 after complaining of stomach ache.
After trips to the doctors and hospital, she received an MRI scan after waking up in the morning and not being able to walk properly.
She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, and has been in and out of hospital ever since.
Her treatment began with intense chemotherapy which was followed by a major operation last November to remove a huge tumour.
The mass, measuring 5cm by 5cm, was in her chest and had been pushing out of her ribs as well as pressing into her spine and her lung.
Will, who works in Sidmouth but lives in Somerset with his wife and their other daughter Anna, recalled: “It was a pretty substantial-sized tumour for anyone, let alone a three-year-old.
“The results were positive after the operation because the tumour they removed was dead which showed the chemotherapy had done its job.
“But due to where the tumour had grown, she needed more treatment to make sure there were no rogue cancer cells.”
Now her six-week course of radiotherapy has finished, Lily will continue to receive monitoring scans every three months and - if they remain clear - she will be declared cancer-free in five years' time.
Over the past nine months, Lily and her family have been supported by CLIC Sargent - both through its nurses who have helped them at home and by being accommodated at a CLIC Sargent house close to Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital.
It inspired Will’s friend Ashley Leeds to embark on a massive fundraiser for the charity.
He organised a live virtual open-mic event featuring 96 performances around the clock, which was streamed live on YouTube and raised more than £12,000 for the charity.
Will added: “Lily’s diagnosis turned our world completely upside down, and in many ways it will never be the same again. We will always have the thought of whether it will come back.
“However, CLIC Sargent has been amazing. I’m not sure how we would have coped without them.”