It’s the news every parent fears hearing, and for mum Anthea Smith, from Bristol, the day she discovered her daughter had a rare form of cancer was the “scariest day of her life.” Little Apple Smith was just three years old when she received the life-changing diagnosis, which meant her next two years would be spent undergoing a range of treatments to hopefully rid her body of the deadly cancer cells. But now the family is celebrating as Apple is now in remission.
Doctors told the family that three-year-old Apple had a high-risk stage 4 neuroblastoma last August and that the cancer had spread to her blood and bones. Anthea’s daughter also had a tumor in her stomach and skull, along with an astonishing 14 other ‘hot spots’ of cancer across her body.
But even with the odds stacked against her, or so it at least appeared, the young family never gave up the fight. Apple even gave the tumor in her stomach a nickname – “monster teddy”.
Anthea has detailed the grueling 16 months of treatment that lay ahead of Apple and her family, but one that eventually led to a positive prognosis.
Apple received high doses of chemotherapy, a stem-cell transplant and six rounds of radiotherapy.
The young child undertook immunotherapy in a bid to help her body recover from the aggressive treatment.
Despite the intensive treatment and pain, Apple remained “super positive, never moaned, and took it all in her stride,” according to her mum.
Anthea told the Bristol Post: “When Apple was really poor, she was so ill she couldn’t even cry.”
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Spread a Smile is a charity that aims to bring joy and hope to seriously ill children in hospitals, hospices and homes across the UK.
They seek to “generate moments of distraction and excitement for critically and terminally-ill children”.
Anthea said it was this charity that helped Apple “feel normal” again.
She pointed to an incident where Apple attended one of the charity’s virtual group sessions, and she noticed that there were other children on her screen who looked like her.
Anthea said: “Being able to join other kids who looked like her and didn’t have hair was really important.
“When she arranged one-to-one sessions with the charity she would look forward to them every week – they were the only thing that made her smile.”