Little Summer Vincent baffled doctors when a lump
started to grow on the side of her neck, strangling her tiny body.
It was discovered to be an extremely rare
tumour - with only two other cases ever reported in the UK - and she had to undergo an extremely risky operation to remove it.
Her devastated parents were told there was a chance she might not even survive the procedure - and if she did she could lose the use of her right arm and her voice. But the brave little girl has pulled through - and she has now made a full recovery much to the relief of her parents.
Summer's mum, Louise, 26, said: "We were told that Summer might not even survive the operation. There hadn't been a case like Summer's for 20 years and the doctors were baffled at how rare it was.
But the tumour was strangling her and she had to have the operation to survive. We were told she may lose her voice, but luckily the operation was a success.
Louise and Summer's dad, Jody, 33, a window salesman, first noticed a problem in October last year when their only daughter, now 18 months, was just a few months old.
Mrs Vincent, a quantity surveyor, who lives in Peterborough said: "For the first few months after Summer was born, everything was fine, then we noticed a small lump on the right side of her neck.
"We kept an eye on it to see if it would go down, and it didn't, so we took her to the GP who referred us straight to hospital."
Doctors at Peterborough District Hospital kept Summer in overnight for observation and sent for a consultant from Leicester Hospital to come and have a look at her.
After she was examined, it was initially thought that Summer had an abnormal vein growing in her neck which would settle as she grew bigger.
She was sent home from hospital but a month later the lump had grown even bigger and she was referred for scans at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
"'We had been reassured when the doctors told us it was an abnormal vein, which in effect had grown too quickly," explained her mum.
We expected as she grew over the next few weeks it would start to reduce in size, but it didn't."
The scans showed the mass in her neck was still growing and in March this year she was referred to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester for more tests. They showed that she was suffering from an incredibly rare tumour, with only two previous cases ever reported in the UK.
It was putting pressure on her windpipe and if it was left untreated, it would close her airway completely.
"It was terrifying. The tumour was strangling Summer and her only hope of survival was an operation to try and remove the tumour," said Jody.
"The doctors told us it was a risky operation - she could lose the use of her right arm and her voice too - but we knew that it was her only hope. It was just devastating to think that we may lose her."
Summer underwent the nine hour operation a week later. Her parents had her christened before she was taken down to the operating theatre.
Doctors had to break her collar bone to remove the large tumour.
The operation was a success, and surgeons managed to remove the tumour without damage to her right arm nerves and her vocal cords. But then Summer developed a dangerous blood clot in her vein afterwards and had to have two more operations to remove the clot and stop the internal bleeding.
"It was very worrying when she was rushed back down for the emergency operations to stop the bleeding," said Jody.
She had been through so much and had come through the first operation, so we were terrified that we were going to lose her after all. But amazingly she pulled through and hung on. She is such a little fighter.
Summer was in hospital for three months before finally being allowed home in May. She has to be given Warfarin daily to keep her blood thin to prevent further clots, but is doing well.
Tests have shown no signs of brain damage and her vocal cords have been unaffected by the surgery.
Mrs Vincent, who is now fundraising for the Heart Link Children's Charity
who provide facilities at Glenfield Hospital, said: "She has even started to crawl now which the doctors didn't think she would be able to do as they'd had to break her collar bone to remove the tumour.
"She has to take the blood thinning drugs as her vein is weak and are prone to clots so she has to be carefully monitored.
"We don't know whether the tumour will ever grow back but we are taking one day at a time. She is just a normal little girl and we feel so lucky to still have her with us."
Words: Lucy Laing at Worldwide Features
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