DANIEL Sewell’s friends and relatives celebrated at a party they feared they would never see this week.
For the celebration was held to mark five years of remission from cancer for the popular seven-year-old.
Daniel was given a “new” tongue during pioneering surgery for mouth cancer at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary as a toddler and doctors warned Alison that he may never talk properly.
But the lively chatterbox now has a reading age of a nine-year-old, has many friends at Crook Primary School in County Durham, and lives the life of a normal seven-year-old boy.
When parents Alison and Richard held a celebration party at Crook Cricket Club last week to commemorate five years in remission, they asked for donations instead of presents.
And family and friends raised over £300 to be divided between Crawford House, where families of sick children can stay at Newcastle RVI, the Children’s Cancer Unit at the RVI and the Rainbow Trust. Alison, 45, of Coronation Street, Crook, said Daniel has proved an inspiration to many other seriously ill youngsters who receive treatment at the RVI.
“He has shown them that you can get better. He has been through so much in his seven years and he is aware that things could have turned out very differently.
“But he appreciates his life and is very popular at school where he has some wonderful friends.”
Alison is now an Ambassador of Crawford House, and has helped to raise funds to double the capacity of families who can stay there from 16 to 32 over the past five years.
The mother-of-five said: “I spent seven months there between March and October 2005 when Daniel was undergoing treatment including chemotherapy.
“My other children were able to stay at home in Crook, but families further afield have to move into Crawford House lock stock and barrel, there was even a family from the Shetland Islands staying there.
“It is run by the Sick Children’s Trust as a home-from-home and is lifeline for families with seriously ill children, I have met some wonderful people there.”
Daniel’s father Richard, a shopfitter, spotted his badly swollen tongue when he was 13 months old and his quick action saved his son’s life – early detection of oral cancer means a survival chance of 90%.
Surgeons had to take out three-quarters of his tongue and replace it with muscle from his abdominal lining.
Alison said: “I was just as ignorant as anyone about mouth cancer. I always presumed it was about the older generation and was linked with smoking and the like.
“When we found out Daniel had cancer, we had the shock of our lives. It was so hard for the first few weeks and we didn’t know which way it was going to go. If we hadn’t noticed when we did I really don’t think he would have made it. Mouth cancer is a silent killer.
“Even hospital staff couldn’t believe a child of 13 months could get this disease. People need to be aware that this can happen to anybody. It is so important that people get themselves checked out.
“We were so nervous when he had the operation, and we were told he might never talk properly, so when he said ‘Mam’ for the first time I was just so happy, I was dancing round the kitchen.”
Daniel is the youngest of the five children. His siblings are Anthony, 25, Michael, 24, Rachel, 15 and Thomas, eight.