A ‘miracle’ baby diagnosed with a rare cancer just months after she was born has finally been given the clear by doctors.
Little Maddison, now aged six months, was conceived after parents Rob, 31, and Natasha Holt, 30, spent nearly five years trying for a baby before turning to IVF.
But their joy was shattered shortly after Maddison’s birth on August 5 last year when doctors told them she had a tumour in her stomach.
A bowel check-up before Christmas turned out to be a myofibroblastic tumour, a rare childhood cancer which then refused to shrink after a month of chemotherapay.
Maddison was forced to undergo a six-hour operation to remove the tumour at Leeds General Infirmary on 8 January earlier this year and is now cancer-free.
Rob, from Leeds, West Yorks. said: “Maddison is our first child and was a long time in the making.
“The IVF was a gruelling process and we must’ve gone through ten pregnancy tests a day but we were beyond happy when we got pregnant.
“Maddison was an unbelievable miracle.
“We didn’t expect it to be anything serious but we thought we’d bring her to the hospital to check.
“When they said cancer, I refused to believe it. It couldn’t be true. Not after everything we’d been through.
“We’d been going through a five-year nightmare and just when we thought we’d escaped it, our world was rocked again.
“I kept thinking to myself: ‘is my little girl going to die?’
“I felt broken, raw and lost. Whenever I left the hospital I would cry for hours on end.”
The weeks after Maddison’s birth were a rollercoaster of emotions for the couple, who have been together for nine years, as they wed the month after she was born.
Rob, who works as a locksmith, said: “It was amazing to have Maddison there – though no one cared about us, she stole the show in her little gorgeous white dress.”
But the honeymoon period came to a crushing end when grandma Mandy noticed a hard lump in the tot’s stomach as she was soothing her, just a month later.
She was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary where they spent eight difficult weeks waiting for a diagnosis.
In November they were told that, then three-month-old Maddison had a rare cancer and would have to start a treatment of chemotherapy.
Maddison began a treatment of chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumour down in size and in late November.
But just weeks later she was rushed back into the hospital with a bad case of bronchitis.
She was placed into isolation, put on oxygen and ended up having three blood transfusions.
The family was told that Maddison could not go home until she was able to breathe for 24 hours on her own – and on Christmas Eve she managed it.
Maddison spent her first Christmas and New Year’s at home with mum, dad and family before going back to the consultants on 3 January.
Unfortunately, the family were told that the chemotherapy had not shrunk the tumour and Maddison required surgery.
Rob said: “I was so scared. She’d just started to smile and had her first giggle. Selfishly, I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing that gorgeous giggle again.
“Everyone handled the news much better than me, I just started at her and cried and cried.
“She was so brave and so was Natasha. I couldn’t be prouder of my two girls – I was completely useless but they were both amazing”
Maddison underwent the 6-hour surgery just days later on January 8, and the worried parents were told that the doctors removed 100 percent of the tumour.
Rob is now sharing his family’s story to raise awareness about childhood cancers and to encourage people to open up and talk about what they’re going through.
He said: “One day I just opened the notes app on my phone and began writing and writing.
“When I actually read back through what I’d written it was really emotional. It was like I’d finally grasped the enormity of what had happened instead of keeping it all bottled up inside.
“I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me, I just thought that if I could help one person recognise the signs of cancer or open up emotionally, then it was worth it. Mental health is so important.”
Natasha, who also works as locksmith, added: “Looking at her now you wouldn’t even know what she had been through.
“She’s really becoming her own person.
“She’s always giggling, is just so chilled and always chuntering away. She’s amazing.”