Luna is a little star
Three-year-old girl who battled disease wins cancer award
A COURAGEOUS three-year-old girl from Hampstead who fought cancer has been recognised for her bravery by a national charity.
Luna Caden underwent gruelling treatment after doctors discovered a tumour the size of a grapefruit in her bladder, in March 2009.
The three-year-old has won a Cancer Research UK Little Star Award after she underwent a major operation and endured months of chemotherapy.
Luna’s father, David Caden, of Netherhall Gardens, said: “She’s a remarkable little girl and you’d never believe what she’s been through. She’s experienced the most awful things and yet when you meet her, you’d be inspired and uplifted by her.”
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It was just before Christmas 2008 that Luna’s parents noticed she was in pain when she went to the toilet.
Over the next four months doctors carried out a series of examinations. In March 2009, an ultra sound revealed that Luna had a tumour the size of a grapefruit in her bladder and she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma – a form of cancer. The tumour was so large it blocked her kidneys from draining and she had to undergo an emergency operation at Great Ormond Street hospital.
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Luna’s mother, Monica Ugidos, said: “It was Friday March 13 when we were finally told she had cancer. She was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital with acute kidney failure. We were very close to losing her.”
Mr Caden, 44, added: “Our immediate reaction was utter shock. We spent the first week taking her for scans. It was terrifying because we had no idea about the extent of the cancer.”
Doctors stabilised Luna and began chemotherapy treatment straight away, taking part in a new European drugs trial to shrink the tumour. The side effects caused her to lose all her body hair, her appetite and weakened her immune system.
Mr Caden said: “I think one of the most difficult things for a parent is that it’s your natural instinct to want to feed your child but Luna lost her appetite and had to be fed through a nasogastric tube.”
Luckily, however, the cancer did not spread beyond the tumour in her bladder and it was subsequently removed with surgery.
Luna then underwent a further four months of chemotherapy. In October 2009, the chemotherapy stopped, but Luna still has to go for regular check ups, X-rays and MRI scans every three months because she is considered to be at risk until 2012.
Luna will need to have a valve fitted so that she has control of her bladder after doctors removed part of her urethra.
Despite all this, Luna continued to inspire those around her and speaks both Spanish and English.
Her father said: “The care we’ve received since she was diagnosed has been absolutely unbelievable. We couldn’t have received better care at Great Ormond Street, the Whittington Hospital, or from the community nurses at the Royal Free.”
Her parents have raised nearly �40,000 for Great Ormond Street.
However, they are keen to raise awareness about cancer in children because it took four months for Luna to be diagnosed.
Mrs Ugidos said: “It’s really important that parents are aware that symptoms their child has could be more than just an infection or a food intolerance. And if they don’t get the answers they want, don’t be afraid to ask again.”
Luna received an award in the shape of a star and a certificate signed by celebrities including chart-toppers Rihanna, Leona Lewis and the Jonas Brothers and footballers Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas.
Lynn Daly, a spokeswoman at Cancer Research UK, said: “Luna has been through a lot in her young life but she has continued to sparkle and made her family so proud of her. She truly deserves this Little Star award.”