Brave Leva looks forward to a special birthday

Leva stewart portrait with star web

Nominations are open for the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards, which recognises little fighters who have overcome the illness

28th November 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Brave birthday girl Leva Stewart has been chosen to launch a special awards scheme that recognises the courage of Scots youngsters with cancer.

Leva, who turns three on Friday 1 December, has endured surgery and chemotherapy to treat a 10cm tumour.

She will soon start four weeks of radiotherapy, and has received a Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Award for demonstrating remarkable courage during a tough fight back to health. Her parents, Roxanne Hausrath, 30, and Adam Stewart, 30, of Blackford, Perthshire are hugely proud of their little girl.

Roxanne said: "Leva is our star, remaining incredibly bright, bubbly, confident and caring through everything.

"Our lives changed overnight when Leva was diagnosed with cancer and we had no control over that. Leva's third birthday will be special. It will be a chance to get everyone together who has supported us through the most traumatic year of our lives and say thank you. We've had amazing support from friends, family and Leva's care in hospital has been outstanding."

Dental nurse Roxanne recalls vividly the moment their lives were turned upside down on 26 April this year after an ultra sound scan at Ninewells hospital, Dundee, revealed what medics suspected was a tumour in Leva's abdomen.

"That was the first big shock,” she said. "We'd taken Leva to the doctor as her tummy had swollen up and was hurting her. She'd even started holding her tummy to support it like a pregnant woman would do when she went to pick something up. I'd noticed the veins in her tummy were really extended and blue which raised alarm bells for me too."

In May, the family were told that Leva had rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer which affects particular types of muscle cells. In children, it occurs most frequently at around three years of age and around 60 children are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK.

Leva started the first of nine cycles of chemotherapy and doctors explained the tumour was getting so large it was pressing on one of her kidneys. Side effects meant Leva lost her hair, was reluctant to eat and felt so unwell she struggled to sit up at all. But the family suffered a hammerblow when a scan after the first lot of chemotherapy showed the tumour had actually grown by 6cm, meaning a seven hour surgical procedure was necessary.

Now Leva is thriving. She has only one cycle of chemotherapy to go and a recent scan revealed no evidence of cancer in her body. The next step is four weeks of radiotherapy at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.

The Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, celebrate the strength shown by young people (aged 0-24) such as Leva who have been affected by cancer. The awards are open to youngsters who currently have cancer or have been treated for the disease in the last five years.

Now family and friends of young cancer patients and survivors from across Scotland are being urged to nominate youngsters for special recognition in the run up to Christmas. Nominations are open now and can be made online