Author: Chris Robinson
A boy given a new tongue in pioneering surgery at a North hospital has been nominated for a prestigious bravery award.
Four-year-old Daniel Sewell has been nominated for a Little Star award, which is backed by F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, Dr Who actor David Tennant and Arsenal football star Cesc Fabregas.
As a one-year-old, Daniel, from Crook, County Durham, underwent surgery for mouth cancer at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Doctors warned his parents that he may never talk properly.
Surgeons had to take out three-quarters of his tongue and replace it with muscle from his abdominal lining.
Now Daniel is a happy, talkative pupil at Crook Primary School. After The Journal reported on his remarkable recovery last month, the charity Cancer Research UK contacted parents Alison and Richard, asking them to nominate him for one of their Little Star awards.
Alison, 43, said: “It was so hard for the first few weeks when 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.
“He is a little devil. If you tell him to turn right he will turn left. He is contrary, but I wouldn’t change him for the world.
“I was delighted to nominate him for this accolade after Cancer Research UK contacted me following the article in The Journal.”
The Little Star Awards are given out by Cancer Research UK and partner TK Maxx.
There in no panel of judges awarding Little Star’s because they believe each and every child who confronts cancer is extra special. All nominees receive a £100 TK Maxx voucher, a chrome trophy and a certificate signed by celebrities including Hamilton, Tennant and Fabregas.
A Cancer Research UK spokeswoman, said: “The awards are now in their sixth year and allow us to salute the courage of youngsters diagnosed with cancer.”
The awards are open to young people under the age of 17 who have cancer or have been treated for the disease in the last five years.