THE COURAGE of a five-year-old Chalford girl who is battling cancer has been recognised with a unique award.
Laoise Nolan, who has recently been re-diagnosed after a brief but precious time when she was thought to be cancer free, has received a Little Star Award from Cancer Research UK.
The news comes as the charity launches its annual Little Star Awards - in partnership with brands-for-less retailer TK Maxx - across Gloucestershire. Several celebrities are supporting the campaign.
The annual awards are given in special recognition of the courage shown by children with cancer.
After being diagnosed with infant lymphoblastic leukaemia aged just 11 months, Laoise spent fifteen months of the next three years in Bristol Children's Hospital.
That included weeks in intensive care and even longer in isolation facing gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.
Laoise also spent three weeks in an induced coma facing daily surgery to combat an infection. She had a bone marrow transplant and received cells from a donor immune system to try and combat the disease.
Although it took months for the youngster to regain her strength, she recently fully recovered from the transplant.
Laoise, who attends Christ Church Primary School, in Chalford, is currently doing well and enjoying life to the full.
She has just started a new course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and is also taking steroids which make her feel particularly under the weather.
Her parents Liam and Deirdre, who also have an eight -year-old son Michael, know she has an uncertain future but delight in her bubbly, chatty nature and her gutsy attitude.
Deirdre said: ". We are so proud of Laoise. She is the best girl. She rarely complains about anything. She even enjoys her regular hospital visits and keeps everyone entertained. She has been doing it since she was 11 months old"
Laoise's proud dad Liam, a biology lecturer at Cirencester College, has taken part in several group cycling fundraising challenges, raising almost £11,000 for cancer research this year.
He said: "She has tolerated so much physical hardship but, despite that, she has remained cheerful and brave.
"She really doesn't like some of the treatment she has to endure, including injections, but she simply accepts that they have to be done.
"She always thinks of others and seems to remember only the fun times. She is a marvel".
Helen Johnstone, Cancer Research UK's spokesperson for Gloucestershire, said: "Laoise richly deserves her Little Star Award. She is an extraordinary example of how brave children are who face cancer. She is very special indeed".
New figures from Cancer Research UK offer increased hope of survival. According to the charity, around 33,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancer will be living in the UK by the end of 2012.*
The latest statistic underlines the tremendous progress that has been made in the fight against children's cancer over the past 50 years.
The Little Star Awards, which celebrate the courage of all children who confront cancer, are backed by a host of famous faces including JLS, Mo Farah, Leona Lewis and Steven Gerrard.
Every month eleven children are diagnosed with cancer in the South West.** Cancer Research UK is working towards a future where all children with cancer are cured. Despite improvements in treatment, around 250 children still lose their lives to the disease each year in the UK.
Cancer Research UK and TK Maxx have joined forces with the charity calling on people in the South West to nominate a Little Star or donate to help fund the charity's life-saving work.
Last year 22 children in the South West received a Little Star Award. Unlike many other children's awards, there is no judging panel because Cancer Research UK and TK Maxx believe that each and every child who faces cancer is extra special. Recipients get a unique trophy, a £50 TK Maxx gift card and a certificate signed by celebrities.
TK Maxx has supported the Awards since 2008, raising a staggering £9 million.
Jo Murphy, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for TK Maxx, said: "The Little Star Awards are a fantastic way of recognising the courage of children who have faced a diagnosis of cancer and the support they receive from family and friends.
"Thousands more people are alive today thanks to Cancer Research UK's work on children's cancer. We've supported the charity since 2004 and are very pleased to be supporting the Little Star Awards again this year."
The Little Star Awards are open to all under-18s who have cancer or who have been treated for the disease in the last five years.