THE family of a four-year-old girl who survived two 13-hour operations to remove a tumour has more reason than most to look forward to a bright 2013.
In January 2011, Olivia Howard, from Sherburn-in-Elmet, was rushed to hospital, where doctors discovered she was suffering from a brain tumour which measured 8cm by 5cm.
Eight months have passed since the Olivia’s last bout of chemotherapy, and a scan in November suggested she was all clear, but she will continue to have tests to ensure the tumour has not returned.
Mark, Olivia’s father, said: “The results from the head and spine scan came back two weeks ago, and are all clear, which is fantastic.
“We saw the scan results too, which was quite bizarre – there’s like a void to the right side of her ear, but it’s going to be like that for life. The brain has adapted already to the mass being there, but it stays a void, filled with fluid, but won’t affect her in any way.”
Christmas in 2011 was also difficult for the family, as Olivia had a high fever two days before Christmas Day and was admitted to children’s oncology ward of Leeds General Infirmary. The family was allowed home at 4pm on Christmas Day, and enjoyed Boxing Day with a full Christmas dinner.
In contrast, this festive season Olivia and her family have been able to happily spend all their time together at home.
Mark said: “It was hectic, but it was nice to spend it at home and we can’t grumble at all. Olivia got spoiled, which goes without saying.
“She had chicken pox just before Christmas, as it’s going round the school. In the back of our minds, with what’s happened, any murmur from her or looking unwell, we fear the worst, so had to double check. The next day, she had spots everywhere.”
Despite the chicken pox, Olivia was well enough to enjoy Christmas with her family, and Mark said he was looking forward to getting back to normal in 2013.
He said: “She got a bike for Christmas, but we’ve not had much time to go out on it, because of the weather. It’s been in the living room pretty much since Christmas Day. Her other toys are getting plenty of use, though.
“We can’t believe it’s New Year’s already. We’ve gone to see everyone because last year we couldn’t.”