Disney Princess helps young patient celebrate end of treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

A Disney Princess was on hand to help a little girl celebrate her final radiotherapy treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

Layla Hackney, from Appleton in Warrington, was being treated at the hospital in Wirral after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in August this year.

As she left the radiotherapy treatment room after six weeks of treatment, the four year-old was greeted by Princess Anna from Frozen.

The pair sang songs together from the hit movie in front of thrilled staff and Layla’s parents Mike, 31, and Rachel, 33.

Layla was then crowned a princess by Anna before the little girl rang the end of treatment bell in front of patients and visitors, to a huge round of applause.

Layla was diagnosed after suffering headaches for weeks. An MRI scan revealed a 5cm tumour on the right hand side of her brain.

She was in surgery for four and a half hours and the tumour was successfully removed. Tests showed it was malignant so a course of chemotherapy was prescribed along with radiotherapy at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

Mum Rachel, 33, said: “Layla has handled the whole thing really well.

“She is quite grown up for her age so we have explained everything to her the whole way through so she understands what is happening and can accept it.”

Layla had six weeks of radiotherapy at Clatterbridge. Some children of her age having the same treatment have a general anaesthetic so they can keep still, but Rachel said: “As soon as we told Layla that she wouldn’t be able to go to school after treatment if she went to sleep she said she would be able to stay absolutely still – and she did.

“She goes to Appleton Thorn Primary School and loves it. She didn’t want to miss out.

“The worst thing for her was being on her own during radiotherapy as no one is allowed in the room but the radiotherapists have a long loom band so patients like Layla can hold one end and I could hold the other outside the room which made her feel better.”

On the day of her final radiotherapy treatment the staff at The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity arranged for Princess Anna of Frozen fame to surprise her, thanks to The Princess Experience, Liverpool.

Layla was already excited as it was her final session, and when she saw Princess Anna waiting for her outside the treatment room she was delighted.

Rachel said: “Layla loves Disney princesses. She saves up all her pocket money to buy them and she watches Disney films on a loop. She was so overwhelmed and excited to meet Anna and wanted to go and tell all her friends straight away.

“All the staff at Clatterbridge were amazing. Everyone chatted to her and the little touches they did to make the experience better for her were wonderful. It made what could have been a frightening experience so much more comfortable for her.

“We were really touched by the final day and all the special things the staff did for Layla. It made it a really positive memory for her, rather than being a negative experience. It was a really nice ending to her treatment and made her feel really special.

“Layla is still going to need to go to hospital for scans and possibly more treatment and the experiences she’s had at Clatterbridge will make sure she won’t be scared. The whole experience was fun and we really appreciate that.”

Sarah Stead, specialist Paediatric Radiographer, said: “Children undergoing this type of treatment can spend a lot of time in different hospitals undergoing different types of procedures and treatments.

“We do everything we can do to make their experience here as good as possible and we hope today is something Layla will always remember.

“Seeing her face when she first spotted Anna was lovely and we are so pleased she enjoyed the Princess experience.”

For more information, visit www.clatterbridgecc.nhs.uk

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