TOT Jessica Fidling is a real star after overcoming an extremely rare form of lung cancer.
The baby was diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma in February, just a week before her first birthday.
The disease is so rare in the young that less than one child a year is diagnosed nationwide with the condition.
Jessica underwent surgery as soon as her illness was spotted and has completed six months of chemotherapy.
Now she is on the mend in the home in Garden Place, Penshaw, she shares with dad Rob and mum Claire Goodings, and Cancer Research has recognised her with one of its Little Star awards.
“She has been absolutely amazing considering what she has been through,” said firefighter Rob.
Jessica had been poorly for a short while before she wad diagnosed.
“She had been having trouble with her breathing and Claire took her to the drop-in centre, but they said it was probably just a cold,” said Rob.
As Jessica’s symptoms got worse, Claire decided to take her to Sunderland Royal, where doctors realised something was seriously wrong.
“She rang me at work and I went down as they were x-raying Jessica,” said Rob.
“The x-ray showed her heart, lung and windpipe were crushed up against the side of her chest, because part of one lung had expanded and the other had collapsed.”
Jessica was rushed to Newcastle’s Freeman hospital for surgery.
When they put the drip in I had to hold her because she was crying and screaming,” recalled her dad.
“It was horrible – no parent should have to go through that with their child.”
“The doctors were fantastic. They showed us the x-ray the next day, after the operation, and everything looked as it should, it had gone back to normal.”
Doctors had thought Jessica had contracted lobar emphysema, a condition which affects the lining of the lung and is most common among young children – but a study of the tissue they removed revealed the truth.
The couple received a call, asking them to go back to the hospital: “I just knew at that point, I knew she had cancer,” said Claire.
“That is when they explained she had pleuropulmonary blastoma.”
The disease has three stages and Jessica’s had been caught while still in stage one, the least aggressive, and surgeons were confident they had removed all the cancerous cells.
Claire and Rob were told with the right treatment, their girl had a better than 80 per cent chance of making a full recovery and agreed Jessica should undergo preventative chemotherapy, even though they knew it would be traumatic.
Jessica was nominated for her Little Star award by family friend Susan Jordan, who wrote: “After everything she has been through, she’s still always smiling.
“She’s the happiest, most content and loving little girl and she’s an absolute credit to Claire and Rob.”
Cancer Research UK spokesman Paul Wadsworth said: “Jessica is a true ‘Little Star’ who richly deserves this accolade.
“We hope to acknowledge the bravery of many more children like Jessica across the region and are encouraging family and friends to get nominating now.”
To nominate a Little Star, visit www.cancerresearch.org.uk