A brave six-year-old girl has made a remarkable recovery after surgeons cut off her ARM to remove a cancerous tumour – before successfully SEWING it back on.
Incredibly, after Bethan Evans’ left arm was ‘temporarily’ amputated it was driven THREE miles to another hospital where specialists zapped the golf ball-sized tumour with high-doses of radiation.
A team of 10 medics then sewed her arm – which had been cut off at the shoulder – back on again at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.
Bethan underwent the eight-hour procedure on July 5 last year just six months after she was struck down with Ewings Sarcoma – a rare bone and tissue cancer.
Since the operation she has undergone months of physiotherapy to strengthen her arm and she is now looking forward to returning to school next month.
Mum Lynne, 37, a supply teacher, said: “She had a virus before Christmas, she never was a poorly child before cancer.
“She came out in a rash and I couldn’t control her temperature so I took her to the doctors who told me it was a virus, which in his defence it was.
“She couldn’t shake it and had about six weeks off poorly and stayed on the sofa.
“Then a lump appeared in the middle of her left arm and I knew it wasn’t a break or anything like that because she hadn’t been doing anything.
“I said to my husband it was cancer and he said I was talking nonsense.
“When we were told it was cancer we held it together until we got to the car and I just wanted to go home, I was distraught.
“When the doctors told us the surgeons remove her arm we were shocked, we couldn’t believe it.
“As a parent you want to protect your children but we were being told the only way to remove the cancer was to amputate her arm, have it driven across a city to another hospital before being driven back and sewn back on.
“We didn’t want to scare Bethan so we told her that she was having a sleep, which she got used to, and we told her when she woke up her lump, we didn’t say cancer, would have gone.
“We were terrified enough and that is all we told her, after the operation and when she recovered we told her and she said it was great, she said it was cool.
“She isn’t bothered about showing her scar now, but protects it and doesn’t let people hold her arm, just me or her dad.
“She wants to be a nurse now when she is older and I hope she can do that.”
Grinning Bethan now happily plays doctors and nurses at home in Llangadfan, near Welshpool, with her eight-year-old sister Amy.
Bethan, who was only told about the details of her operation afterwards, said: “When mum and dad said the doctors cut my arm off I just thought ‘that’s cool.’
“I now think of it as my special arm. I’m really looking forward to skipping with my friends again when I get back to school.
“I really want to be a nurse when I grow up. It’s cool what they do.”
Bethan was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma – which affects around 30 children in the UK each year – on January 30 last year, her fifth birthday, after her parents noticed a lump on her arm.
Before her operation Bethan underwent eight gruelling weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour which measured 17cm (6.6ins) in diameter.
On the day of the daring operation, surgeons at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham removed her arm at the shoulder.
The arm was then packed in ice before being rushed by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham which specialises in radiation therapy.
A team of doctors put the arm through intense radiation to kill any existing cancer cells before removing the tumour.
Hours later the arm was then re-packed in ice and sped back across the city where it was re-attached to Bethan.
Her mother, Lynne, 37, a supply teacher, said: “It was all a blur. My husband and I sat in the ambulance with Bethan’s arm as it was rushed across Birmingham by ambulance.
“We are just delighted the treatment was successful. Bethan might be cancer free now but she will not get the all clear for another four years.
“It has been a rollercoaster journey and we couldn’t be prouder of Bethan. She has gone through so much for such a little girl but she has never stopped smiling.”
Bethan has weekly physiotherapy sessions and could have a platinum bone inserted into her upper arm when she turns nine if she struggles to move it.
Lynne added: “She has no feeling in the top of her arm, her bones are dead, but the lower arm is fine, you wouldn’t know anything is different, she’s lost about 30 per cent mobility but she can have 85 per cent mobility if she has an operation when she is nine.
“We still have to do a lot for her, teaching her basic things like getting dressed and eating because I have done it for her for the last 18 months.
“She’s been to school periodically during her treatment but you’re talking one or two days.
“I hope she will go full time in September. She can’t wait to play with the other kids.”
Bethan will have routine follow up scans at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital every three months until she is 18.
Bethan’s mum Lynne, 37, and dad Arwel, 38, are now raising money for the Kids Cancer Charity in a bid to help other children.
Arwel, an engineer, is preparing for a 220-mile sponsored bike ride from Holyhead to Cardiff next month to raise money for the charity.
He said: “I can’t put into words how proud we are of both of our children and the family to be honest, we have all worked as a team.
“This certainly won’t keep her down, she’s very active, she won’t let it ruin her life, she is very bubbly, she is a bit of a monster, she never does as she is told but that attitude has got her through.”