SHE was given just 10 months to live, but now five-year-old Jessica Vardy is a walking miracle.
The youngster was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which only two children a year in the UK get.
Doctors feared Jessica wouldn’t make it, but after months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the Rhabdoid tumour under her left armpit has now shrunk by more than 70 per cent.
Doctors are amazed she has responded so well to the treatment, which has been seen as a real breakthrough for staff at Southampton General Hospital.
Her case is now being monitored by oncologists across Europe.
Jessica, who attends Swanmore Primary School, had been feeling pains in her arm for months, but doctors were mystified about what was causing it.
On Christmas Eve last year, the family found out it was cancer, and doctors broke the devastating news that she would probably only live for 10 months.
Mum Dawn, 35, from Bishops Waltham, said: ‘The pain of hearing the news that our daughter had a rare form of cancer, with little hope of survival, broke us to the core.
‘It was absolutely devastating, it would be for any mother.
‘You love your children more than anything. It was awful to know that someone you love so much could be taken away.
‘But our little girl has defied the odds. We are astounded that despite her consultants’ fears, her tumour is actually shrinking.
‘It made us value our family and our time that we have together. We appreciate it more. We don’t take it for granted.
‘It’s been a reminder of those things that are important.’
And Dawn has praised her daughter’s courage.
‘She’s been so brave. For six months she was in agony. She was still going to school. She’s just been amazing,’ she said.
Jessica will have an operation in two weeks to remove most of the tumour.
Friends of the family and other mums are now supporting Jessica by taking part in the Race for Life in Winchester next month, and the Great South Run in October.
‘Everybody is doing all that they can to raise money,’ added Dawn.
‘If we can help other people then that’s great.’
Money raised will go to the Piam Brown Ward in Southampton and Cancer Research UK.
To make a donation, please visit justgiving.com/Dawn-Vardy1.