A three-year-old who beat a rare form of liver cancer has been crowned a Little Hero by the swim school who helped her get back in the pool.
Freya Rayment, three, from Chaulden in Hemel Hempstead, first made a splash with the Water Babies Swim School aged 12 weeks and took to to the lessons like a duck to water.
But when she was 22-months old, the youngster was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma which meant she had to give up her time in the pool.
Freya’s illness was first discovered in October last year when she went off her food and became very pale.
Her mum Alison, 34, knew something was wrong, but never imagined it was cancer.
“An ultrasound revealed that Freya had a 16cm tumour that was so aggressive it was growing by the day – the news changed our lives.
“We were referred to Great Ormond Street and the next three months saw six rounds of chemo and a six-hour operation to remove the tumour.
“Thankfully the liver is self-healing and doctors said it would re-grow in six weeks.”
Although Freya continues to be monitored, news has so far all been positive and there is no longer any sign of the disease.
She managed to get back in the pool at the Water Babies class at the Holiday Inn on Breakspear Way, Hemel Hempstead, in September this year and has been all smiles ever since.
Chemo has damaged her hearing, leaving Freya with hearing aids, but as Alison – who is also mum to seven-year-old Louie – says: “This is a small price to pay compared to the alternative.”
She added: “Swimming has always been one of Freya’s favourite things to do and she was so excited to get back to her Water Babies classes.
“It’s such a joy to see her swimming and smiling again after all she’s been through.”
Paul Thompson, co-founder of Water Babies, said: “Freya’s enthusiasm for swimming despite all she’s been through really stood out for us and she is a very worthy winner.
“We have been taken aback by our Little Heroes and impressed with all the brave little splashers out there.
“We want to raise awareness of the importance of children learning to swim at as early an age as possible.
“Our research showed that the average age children start swimming lessons is four years old and 40 per cent of children haven’t had a lesson by the age of 12, when lessons can actually take place from birth.”
Visit www.waterbabies.co.uk for more.
The closest sessions to Hemel Hempstead are at the Holiday Inn in Breakspear Way, and at the Breakspeare School in Abbots Langley.