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Champion Child of Courage.

Lily Blundell

ALWAYS laughing and joking, Lily Blundell, below, never lets her life threatening condition get her down.

Family and friends of the Eaglescliffe youngster were devastated last year when they were told she had pilocytic astrocytoma - an inoperable brain tumour.

Scans revealed a tumour the size of a golf ball, which was so deep-rooted doctors confirmed the pupil at St Mary's Primary, in Long Newton, would have to live with it for life.

But the bubbly nine year old never lets her life-threatening condition get her down and now family friend Phil Laverick has put Lily forward as a Community Champion.

"Lily has shown so much bravery in dealing with her illness," said Phil. "Whenever you see Lily she is always smiling and happy, never moaning or crying. Maybe this is because she has such a loving, caring, supportive and also brave family there for her."

In recent months, Lily's family and friends have raised hundreds of pounds for the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, which will go towards research into childhood brain tumours.

Phil added: "In the face of adversity, Lily has not only thought of herself but has nominated a wonderful charity to receive all the money people have raised on behalf of her.

"Lily has not allowed this horrible illness to spoil her charm and personality and she is an inspiration to each and everyone of us."

Lily's mum Ruth said: "It's such a fantastic thing for Phil to do. He's a good friend and has helped out a lot with fundraising for the charity. Lily is really excited."

Jessica Harrison

BRAVE little Jessica Harrison became an inspiration to everyone after being diagnosed with cancer.

The amazing seven-year-old tragically lost her two-year fight for life this week. But her parents have agreed their brave daughter's nomination as a Child of Courage should remain, in dedication to her tremendous courage and spirit.

The six-year-old, who had cancer of the kidney, has earned special praise from her proud mum Karen who has nominated her daughter as a Community Champion.

In nominating her daughter, Karen, of New Marske, said: "Jessica is one special little girl and I am so proud she is my daughter. She is inspirational and has shown tremendous courage."

Jessica's health problems started back in 2005 when she complained of severe stomach pains.

She was given antibiotics but on Mother's Day in 2006, Karen noticed a lump on Jessica's stomach.

She was referred to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary where Jessica's parents Karen and Andy were told an X-ray had shown a mass in her lungs.

A few days later Jessica started a six-week course of intense chemotherapy, then in May 2006 she had surgery to remove her right kidney and any tumour around it.

But soon after the family were hit with another blow as she waited for more surgery.

"Something had been spotted on the good side of the liver," said Karen. "We were devastated when her consultant explained that in his opinion it is unlikely Jessica will be cured.

She added: "We had two weeks to decide on either further chemo for Jess, which was a new chemo trial, or just let Jess enjoy her time and symptoms to be treated with painkillers.

"We decided on this new treatment, we always live in hope. Not an easy choice, but throughout this, we have been amazed with how Jess has continued to live her life to the full."

Rachael Emily Paul

A BRAVE little girl who has twice battled leukaemia and underwent a lifesaving bone marrow transplant never asks "Why me?"

Instead Rachael Emily Paul "just gets on with it" according to her proud family.

When Rachael was just two and already undergoing chemotherapy, the Evening Gazette told how a bone marrow donor was her only hope.

Now aged nine and a pupil at Bankfields School, the Normanby youngster has celebrated six years in remission.

Rachael was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was 14 months old.

She endured six months of intensive chemotherapy at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, but suffered a relapse in 2000 prompting a frantic search for a bone marrow donor.

Her mum Pamela, dad Lawrence and their two other children, Stephen, 15, and Rebecca, 12, were tested as potential donors but weren't matches.

Miraculously however, a donor was found in Belgium by the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust and a lifesaving transplant was able to be carried out in 2001.

Proud mum Pamela said: "She's had to deal with a lot, but she's a very loving little girl and never complains.

"She is still fighting the side-effects six years on, but never asks 'why me?', she just gets on with it."

A side-effect of the radiotherapy endured by Rachael, who enjoys music and art and plays the clarinet, has left her with cataracts.

She has undergone surgery to remove the cataract from one eye, but still faces surgery on her other eye.

Pamela added: "When the doctors told us she had relapsed in 2000 they said a bone marrow transplant was her last chance. When we heard a match had been found it was amazing."
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 28, 2007
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