THE FAMILY of a Derry toddler and cancer survivor said they are counting their blessings after celebrating the second birthday they feared she might never see.
A new round of tests including an MRI scan have confirmed that little Kari Barrett is showing no signs of the neuroblastoma cancer she had removed in a life-or-death operation five months ago having returned.
Her parents Lorraine and Kevin said they were delighted and relieved with the latest results as they set up a bouncy castle and mini disco to kick-start the birthday celebrations yesterday afternoon.
Surgery earlier this month to have a portacath removed also passed without a hitch and Kari was even allowed home on the same day.
“She is doing great”, Lorraine said. “We have been really looking forward to her second birthday. I just can’t believe it.
“She was diagnosed a month after her first birthday and to think of all that has happened in the past year, the highs, the lows, and we are here a year late now and we have got her all clear.”
Kevin and Lorraine were given the devastating news that their 13-month-old baby daughter had a large cancer
Lorraine added: “So much has happened in the last 12 months. Her last MRI scan is all clear and the way they test for neuroblastoma is clear too. With the operation you worry how she will cope and they were expecting her to stay in hospital but she was just flying. You just see her and everything she has been through and how she has handled it all grand.”
Last Autumn Kevin and Lorraine Barrett left their Buncrana Road home and flew with Kari to Southampton General Hospital for pioneering surgery.
It was their only hope after successive bouts of chemotherapy had no impact on the tumour, which was wrapping itself around Kari’s vital organs.
The couple made the heart-breaking decision to go ahead with the operation despite being told there was a 50% chance she would not survive. They were well aware that was her only chance.
As her parents held a 13-hour vigil outside the ward, against all odds surgeons managed to uncoil it and remove the entire tumour- something not even the medical team themselves thought possible.
Kari lost a kidney and her adrenal glands in the process, but she is showing no signs of being held back by her ordeal.
“So much has happened in the last 12 months.
“Her last MRI scan is all clear and the way they test for neuroblastoma is clear too.
“With the operation you worry how she will cope and they were expecting her to stay in hospital but she was just flying. You just see her and everything she has been through and how she has handled it all grand.
“She has come through so much but she is not showing any signs of anything, even from the chemo. Physically and mentally she is developing as normal.
“She is full of chat, she is talking more than my wee boy would have talked at this age.”
Kari’s big brother Jamie is also delighted to have his sister back and in full play mode.
“She is enjoying him and enjoying the company, getting out and about, out playing and she loves dancing,” Lorraine said, adding:
“She is just a wee miracle.”
During Kari’s operation last year, her family said they drew great strength and comfort from the prayers and well wishes of the hundreds of people waiting anxiously for word back home.
Over 1,000 people have wished them well over that 13 hour period via a Facebook page set up for Kari’s appeal.
Kevin and Lorraine broke the news with the online message :
“They got it! They got it! They got it all out!
“Against all odds they did it! My God our prayers have been answered!
“Thank you all so so much we all did it together.”