A brave ‘little fighter’ who was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer fought back from the brink after suffering a heart attack and slipping into a coma.
Blackpool girl Cleo Keenan, three, is battling stage three adrenal carcinoma, a disease caused by cancerous cells in the adrenal - or hormone - glands.
A huge tumour the size of a grapefruit was removed from the toddler’s abdomen at Manchester Children’s Hospital in May, and doctors believed she was making good progress.
But things took a turn for the worse on Monday September 16, when an adrenal crisis caused by a lack of hormones sent the youngster into cardiac arrest.
Doctors at Blackpool Victoria Hospital battled for five minutes to restore her heartbeat.
Her mum Shannon Latham, 23, said: “As I sat beside her, holding her hand, her whole body tensed up. She looked like she was having a fit.
“Obviously the doctor knew what was happened and flipped her on her back and pulled the emergency alarm, and about 20 doctors piled into the room.
“All we heard was ‘we need to start chest compressions’.
“We got dragged out by the head nurse and put in a waiting room.
“What felt like three hours was 10 minutes of waiting and crying in a panic down the phone.
“It was pure heartbreak. I thought I had lost my baby.
“We thought she was gone, we thought we were never gone see or speak to her again, but when the doctor said she was trying to breathe on her own a massive sense of relief just hit us.”
Cleo was put in an induced coma and taken to Manchester Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit, and needed an incubator to help her breathing.
Her mum and dad, Ryan, 26, feared the worst - but brave Cleo pulled through, and woke up on Tuesday afternoon.
She was taken out of intensive care on Wednesday.
By Saturday - just five days after her cardiac arrest - she was able to eat, get out of bed, and chat with her big sisters, Emelia and Ellie-Mae, and favourite nurses.
Shannon said: “I don’t know how she does it. She bounced straight back like nothing had happened. It was the same when she had her surgery.
“Now she’s her usual cheeky, sassy little self. She amazes me.”
Cleo, who lives on Wensleydale Avenue, Grange Park, with her parents and sisters, was thought to be suffering from a hormone imbalance before being diagnosed with stage three cancer in March.
Chances of surviving the deadly disease remain at just 25 to 35 per cent.
But after six months of intense treatment, little Cleo is expected to beat the odds, as Shannon says she is now on track to make a full recovery.
“Every time she has her chemo, she’s recovering. She gets a bit sick now and again, but apart from that she’s fine,” she said. “We feel very lucky. She’s three years old and she’s fought everything that life has thrown at her. Every challenge she’s faced, she’s beaten.”
The youngster is now looking forward to finishing her chemotherapy treatment and jetting off to a magical holiday in Disneyland, and meeting the characters from her favourite Disney film, Aladdin.
Shannon said: “Everyone is so proud of her; she’s so strong and beautiful in every single way.”