THE prospect of a new year can be an exciting yet poignant prospect for any family — but for the parents of Katie Dodd, 2014 marks the start of her road to recovery from cancer. Bolton News Health Correspondent CHARLOTTE DOBSON spoke to the family about what this year will hold for them.

BACK in September, 2012, little Katie Dodd’s parents, Lee and Rebecca, feared their daughter may never walk again after doctors discovered a tumour pressing on her spinal cord.

Since then, the Farnworth youngster has had 14 cycles of chemotherapy and travelled to America for Proton Beam Therapy — the most advanced form of radiotherapy which is not available in the UK.

Despite the aggressive treatment, Katie, aged five, has conquered physiotherapy, gone back to school and has even started walking again.

Her proud mum Mrs Dodd says Katie is putting on weight and is able to walk with the help of a walker or by holding on to things. The 38-year-old said: “She just wants to walk everywhere because she’s not done it for so long. She’s becoming more and more mobile and is putting on weight. When she took her first steps, it was just lovely to see and she had this huge smile on her face. She’s also lost her first tooth and she was thrilled about that because her big brother Joseph has lost some of his too.”

So far Katie’s scans at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital have come back clear of cancer and, apart from a recurring water infection, she is going from strength to strength.

Yet Katie’s year of paralysis and intense treatment has understandably had a huge impact on the youngster, according to Mrs Dodd.

And although Katie still loves her Barbies and other girly toys, the mum-of-two says her battle with cancer has left her with ‘an older head on young shoulders’.

Mrs Dodd said: “Sometimes when she says things, she doesn’t sound like a little girl. She sounds like an adult and I suppose it’s because of everything she’s been through. But I have never shielded the kids from what’s been going on.

“A little boy we met at the children’s hospital died recently, and she understood that he had gone. I want her understand the importance of what we’ve had to do to make sure she gets better, and she’s taken it all in her stride. She’s quite robust with it all.”

Mrs Dodd also admits that getting back to normal after all of Katie’s treatment has been one of the unexpected challenges of the family’s ordeal. She added: “I think Katie has struggled to adapt to sharing myself and Lee with her big brother Joseph again. Quite often they’ll both be vying for my attention and that has certainly taken its toll. Each of them have their own individual needs but it’s important they feel equal again. It’s been a lot for both of them.

“One minute Katie was fighting for her life, the next we’re trying to sort out whose turn it is to watch their favourite cartoon. I worry sometimes that Joseph feels like he doesn’t match up to Katie so we’re working hard to address that. He goes to a group for children with disabled siblings, which we’re hoping will help.” After months of having to support Katie physically in everyday tasks, a real challenge for the whole family has been taking a step back and letting the little girl try things for herself.

Mrs Dodd said: “If Katie wants to get something from one of the other rooms like the kitchen or conservatory, it’s hard to stop myself from just doing it for her, which is the natural impulse as a mother.

“Now she’s putting on weight and doing really well in physio, she’s become so much more confident. She’s just buzzing with happiness.”

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