Stenhousemuir Primary pupils celebrate as Mila Sneddon is in remission from leukaemia
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The six-year-old has been receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia for the last two-and-a-half years.
With the news she was now in remission, Mila received a hero’s welcome from pupils at Stenhousemuir Primary School.
Over 400 youngsters lined the playground to give her a guard of honour, clapping and waving specially prepared banners to honour her courage.
On her triumphant walk, Mila rang a bell – a time honoured tradition that normally takes place in hospital to mark the end of cancer treatment. The bell was bought for her by teacher her, Jenny Lenathen, who'd also come up with the idea for the event.
Mila’s story captured the hearts of the whole nation when a photograph of her kissing her dad Scott through the window was first published.
Titled ‘Shielding Mila’ it was handpicked by the Duchess of Cambridge as one of 100 images chosen to reflect life in the UK during the pandemic.
The photo touched the Royal so deeply that she not only called Mila but also met with her twice last year – once at Holyrood Palace and at a Christmas community carol service held in Westminster Abbey.
The image, part of the Hold Still project published by the National Portrait Gallery, frames the heart-breaking decision Scott took to move out of the house for seven weeks to reduce the risk of bringing Covid-19 into the home while Mila went through treatment.
Back in November 2019 life changed for the Sneddon family when Mila became unwell. Parents Lynda and Scott thought she had the cold or some other minor condition when they took her to the GP on Tuesday, November 19.
Lynda previously explained: “She was tired and a wee bit pale. I thought she might be a little anaemic. The GP did the standard checks and wanted to look at some bruising on the lower half of her legs.
"She had a feel of her tummy and identified quite quickly Mila’s spleen was enlarged.”
Things moved quickly after that as the GP referred the Sneddons to Forth Valley Royal Hospital for blood tests.
“I still thought it was probably just a case of her being anaemic and they wanted to do some blood tests in the hospital rather than at the GP’s,” said Lynda.
Then when the tests came back the doctors told Lynda and husband Scott that it was likely to be acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a rare type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.
She was immediately taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow for treatment and the family’s rollercoaster journey began.
Her parents juggled spending time with Mila with their work, while big sister Jodi, now 17, studied for her exams while visiting the hospital.
But now the whole family and the local community are delighted at the news the youngster is in remission.
She even received a special video message from two of her biggest fans, Ant and Dec!
Stenhousemuir Primary headteacher Dawn Stanfield said: “Only five days before finding out she had cancer, Mila had been dancing at her dad Scott’s 50th birthday. Just 72 hours later she found walking difficult due to pain in her leg whilst experiencing fatigue.
“Since then, she's had multiple rounds of chemotherapy, numerous lumbar punctures, and had to isolate from her father when the pandemic hit to keep her safe during her treatment.
“Despite having this diagnosis, Mila and her family made the hard and brave decision that she would still attend nursery, start Primary 1, and continue her way through to Primary 2 at Stenhousemuir Primary where she is currently.
“For such a little girl, Mila has shown a remarkable amount of bravery and courage throughout her life. Mila would still come into school even after surgery or her treatments - just highlighting what a determined and brave little girl, she is. Mila is a pleasure to teach and is a model pupil in our school.
“Hearing the news that Mila is now in remission has been the most amazing news for our school community. This is such a huge milestone for Mila and her journey, and we could not be prouder of how she has handled this. She is a true inspiration to all."