A girl who was left unable to walk due to an aggressive form of cancer has made a remarkable recovery and returned to her love of salsa dancing.
Four-year-old Lydia Yilmaz was diagnosed with leukaemia while on holiday last year.
But after four rounds of chemotherapy and blood transfusions, brave little Lydia has battled back and is now in remission.
Since going into remission, Lydia has been able to return to salsa dancing and her mum Selen, 33, and dad Ozgur, 34, could not be more proud.
Selen, a dance teacher from Glasgow, said: “I call Lydia my dancing sunshine. She’s loving dancing again and life has somehow come back to our family.
“When your child is diagnosed with cancer you have no idea when or how that will happen.
“It was traumatic but right from the start we were surrounded by amazing people who made Lydia laugh, gave her strength and made her happy.
“We are truly grateful to that mighty army of angels, our family and friends who gave Lydia positive energy and love.
“There have been times that it was Lydia who kept me going. She is a naturally happy person. Even when she felt too weak to walk, she still smiled.”
The family moved to Scotland in 2012, and Selen and Lydia were visiting family in Istanbul, Turkey, last year when she started complaining about having sore legs and feeling exhausted.
Her worried mum later realised that Lydia also had bruises, a high temperature and swollen gums, and immediately took her to the city’s Acibadem Hospital.
After tests were carried out, it was revealed that Lydia was suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia – a cancer that starts in white blood cells.
Selen said: “That night was the longest night of my life. They ordered a blood test then another one as the doctor wanted to double check the results.
“Lydia’s blood counts were so low that we found ourselves in the special care unit. The doctor on call alerted the specialist who came rushing to the hospital.
“The doctors were 90 per cent sure she had leukaemia. Our family and friends arrived at the hospital and everyone was in complete shock.
“Lydia kept asking, ‘where’s my daddy?’
“Lydia and I had been looking forward to our holiday in Turkey for months. We’d been so excited packing our suitcases and counting down the days until our holiday.”
Ozgur, who had remained in Glasgow to work, immediately flew to Turkey to be by his daughter’s side as she began her first round of chemotherapy.
Lydia was left too weak to walk and lost all of her hair, but she was well enough to return home to Glasgow shortly before Christmas.
She was treated at the city’s Royal Hospital for Children and after another three rounds of chemotherapy, Lydia was able to walk again.
Miraculously, she even started dancing for the nurses and playing on her scooter.
Now that Lydia is in remission, she regularly attends her mum’s dance classes to inspire others, and even takes part in some of them herself.
“Lydia gives the world a reason to dance every day.”
Lydia’s incredible fight against her disease has been recognised by Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens, and she has received a Star Award for her bravery from the charity.
The move comes after it was revealed that the rate of children dying from cancer each year in Scotland has fallen by 36 per cent in the last 20 years.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens’ Scotland spokeswoman, said: “Although we’re losing fewer young lives to cancer, a lot more needs to be done to find new and better treatments.
“And as more children survive cancer, it’s especially important that we concentrate on improving their quality of life after treatment.”
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