More children are beating cancer than ever before.
New figures released by Cancer Research UK show that survival rates have improved dramatically since the early 1970s, with at least 5600 more children living for five years or more after diagnosis.
But the positive news does not make life any easier for the thousands of families who have to cope with the physical and emotional impact of the disease.
One family from Bonnybridge know the painful experience only too well.
Little Sean Blake was just four years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
His mum and dad Claire and Mike received the news every parent dreads last September.
Sean subsequently underwent 10 days of chemotherapy and six months of isolation.
The brave youngster’s condition has since improved and he is now back at school.
The Blakes spoke to The Falkirk Herald this week to promote the launch of the 2011-12 Little Stars awards, which celebrate the courage of young people diagnosed with cancer.
Sean, now aged five, was one of 20 ‘ambassadors’ chosen by Cancer Research UK to attend the glittering awards ceremony in London earlier this year.
Dad Mike said: “The last year has been so tough but throughout it all Sean has been such a little star.
“He’s so boisterous and fun loving and enjoys nothing better than a run around with his best friend – his Staffordshire bull terrier Jack.
“At one stage during his treatment, he was in isolation for six months but he didn’t complain. He’s been so brave and has just kept on smiling.
“The Little Stars awards provided a welcome relief for Sean and the rest of the family.
“Although the awards was a great night, I think Sean was more excited about the chance to visit London Zoo!
“We want to urge the public to donate to the Little Star fundraising campaign too because Cancer Research UK really has done so much to improve childhood cancer treatments.”
Dr Pam Kearns, director of the Cancer Research UK children’s cancer trials team, said: “The Little Star awards recognise the courage of all children who have been diagnosed with cancer.
“Seeing their bravery is an inspiration to me and my colleagues every day.”
Last year 10 children from Scotland received a Little Star Award.
For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/littlestars.