A couple who had twins after five years of IVF treatment said they were devastated when one of the girls was diagnosed with a rare cancer at just seven weeks old.
Jonathan and Laura Jones, from Swansea, said scans showed daughter Emilie had a cancerous tumour the size of her kidney which causes her daily pain in her spine.
The couple says their “strong” little girl keeps smiling every day, despite going through treatment for neuroblastoma, which affects around 100 children each year in the UK.
Emilie, who is now seven months old, and sister Elsie were born in April this year after their parents spent five years trying to conceive a second child through IVF after having their son, Harrison, seven.
But they soon noticed a difference in behaviour between the twins, with Emilie almost constantly screaming out in pain.
Laura, 31, said: “Emilie was screaming and crying in pain almost constantly.
“It was hard not to make a comparison with her twin sister, Elise. Having twins side-by-side with one crying all the time made it more obvious that something wasn’t right.”
Emilie was taken for a scan and results showed a large tumour in her stomach which later turned out to be cancerous.
Laura said: “The tumour was the same size as one of her kidneys and was pushing against the nerves in her spine.
“We were told the pain she was experiencing was the same as sciatica pain. The consultant said she had never seen anything like it in her 30-year career.
“After going through so much to have another baby, it felt even more devastating when Emilie was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was the worst day of our lives. Although I have previously worked in cancer research, I never in a million years thought Emilie would be diagnosed with cancer.
“When we were on the oncology ward, I couldn’t process what was happening.”
Emilie had emergency surgery at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales to remove the pressure on her spinal cord, before undergoing four rounds of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour.
Laura, a data manager, and Jonathan, 37, an IT company director, are now waiting for Emilie’s next scan in December to see how the tumour has responded to treatment.
Removing the tumour too early could leave her paralysed, with the family’s hopes resting on chemotherapy treatment for now.
Emilie has been chosen to launch Cancer Research UK’s Kids & Teens Star Awards in Wales, in partnership withTK Maxx.
Anyone can nominate a young cancer patient in the run up to Christmas, with every child receiving gifts including a £50 TK Maxx gift card, and a T-shirt and a certificate signed by a host of famous faces including This Morning’s Dr Ranj, Dame Emma Thompson and singers Una Healy and Aston Merrygold.