Anya's ready to start 'being a normal girl'


Romilly Scragg and Robert Doman

A girl will go swimming for the first time after being given the all-clear from cancer.

Three-year-old Anya Bentham’s parents Naomi Stanley and Graeme Bentham have received their daughter’s final results following 18 months of treatment for neuroblastoma.

The toddler suffered a gruelling programme of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, stem cell replacement, immunotherapy, time in an isolation unit and operations to remove parts of the tumour.

But now Naomi said she and Graeme, who previously lived in Connah’s Quay but now live in Christleton, Chester, are excited that Anya will be able to lead the life that other children enjoy.

“She can start being a normal little girl,” said Naomi.

“It is a miracle she is even here after how poorly she was.

“We feel like we’ve been held hostage for a year-and-a-half.

“It’s been very intense and now we just can’t believe how things have changed.”

The family endured months of heartache as Anya battled the aggressive form of childhood cancer but Naomi said they were aided by an 11th hour chance to receive the final stages of treatment in the UK as part of a European trial.

They had been expecting to travel to the USA for the treatment, which would have involved living in Philadelphia for six months.

“It was a godsend that we were able to have the treatment in the UK. We were very, very, very lucky.

“We had already exchanged paperwork to have the treatment in Philadelphia.

“But all Anya wanted to do throughout her treatment was to come home so I wouldn’t have wanted to put her through six months abroad.”

After receiving the “huge, huge news” of her daughter’s all-clear following the stem cell and immunotherapy treatment, Naomi revealed she is now looking forward to taking Anya swimming.

During her treatment, Anya had an intravenous line connected to her chest that her parents had to prevent getting wet.

“We’ve had to make sure she was never fully submerged in water,” said Naomi.

“A charity gave her a wetsuit but it was like a scuba-diving outfit and really tight around her neck and she didn’t enjoy herself.

“Finally, she’ll be able to bathe and splash about like other children. It’s a huge, huge thing for a parent.”

That will happen on June 10 when the central line is removed from just below the toddler’s shoulder.

Anya will also continue to have regular tests.

“But there’s no more treatment,” said Naomi. “We’ve had some horrendous times and we don’t know what the future holds but we’re very happy to be here.

“We’ve been very blessed by the amount of support we’ve had.

 “We’ve met so many people who genuinely wanted to help, practically and with fundraising. We just couldn’t have done it without them.”

Fundraising will continue but Naomi said that if Anya is still in the clear after five years the money would either be used to treat another child with the condition or for neuroblastoma research trials.

You can support Anya’s appeal by going to
AnyaBenthamAppeal and donations can be made at

See full story in the Chester Leader

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