Strictly amaz­ing!

A deadly ill­ness had come for Jane's lit­tle girl. But in this dance - off, can­cer doesn't have a hope ...

Real People - - NEWS - Jane Douglas, 47, Perth

Lily’s can­cer dance-off

An ‘ah­hhh’ blew from my lips, fol­lowed by an ex­cited ‘ooohhh’. Louise Red­knapp was drift­ing across the dance floor like a cloud across the sky. She was a vi­sion in chif­fon and se­quins, in per­fect hold in the arms of Kevin from Grimsby…

‘Look at me, Mummy!’ my daugh­ter, Lily, cried.

Lily was match­ing Louise step-by-glit­ter­ing-step, glid­ing across our liv­ing-room car­pet, hold­ing a cush­ion for a danc­ing part­ner! And, as al­ways, she took my breath away, too.

‘You’d def­i­nitely get a 10 from Len,’ I cheered.

Satur­day night was Strictly Come Danc­ing night in our house and I ex­pect it’s the same in your house, too. But are you rais­ing a fu­ture star of the show? I knew I was.

My Lily was only nine, yet her bed­room gleamed with over 80 dance tro­phies and 100 medals. She’d been dance-mad since join­ing ma­jorettes, aged two.

Next was bal­let, freestyle, disco, mod­ern…

Un­til now, she was train­ing for 30 hours ev­ery week.

She had a wardrobe to ri­val Tess and Clau­dia’s, bulging with dresses that could cost £2,000 a time! It was a lot of money for some stretchy ma­te­rial, rhine­stones and feath­ers, so I’d of­ten buy them se­cond-hand for £300, and dryclean the fake tan marks out.

All the make-up and wood­stain… sorry, fake tan... cost a pretty wodge, too. But I didn’t be­grudge a penny of it for my tal­ented girl.

‘Bruno’s so funny,’ she was gig­gling now.

We were glued to the se­ries un­til it cli­maxed with Ore Oduba and Kevin’s sis­ter, Joanne Clifton, lift­ing the Glit­ter­ball at Christ­mas.

Four months on, Lily was climb­ing into her own favourite blue-feath­ered gown to com­pete in a tap and bal­let com­pe­ti­tion. I pre­dicted an­other bit of sil­ver­ware, and I was right.

But as we drove home, I looked in the rearview mir­ror and saw Lily rub­bing her left shoul­der. ‘You OK?’ I frowned.

‘It’s sore,’ she winced.

‘It’ll be all that ef­fort you put in,’ I told her. ‘You’ve prob­a­bly pulled some­thing.’

She didn’t seem that both­ered. All she could think about was whether she would get an au­di­tion for the pres­ti­gious Scot­tish Bal­let School.

We’d hear any day now…

But that night, Lily came into my room.

‘My shoul­der’s re­ally sore, can I sleep with you?’ she moaned. I’d split with her dad, Scott Robert­son, 47, when I was preg­nant with her. So it was just me, Lily and her big brother, Leon, who’d moved out.

‘Come here,’ I smiled, pulling the du­vet back. Then I put my hand on her shoul­der… and felt a lump.

It was about 10cm big, and hadn’t been there ear­lier.

A bad sprain? Had to be. My mum, Mary, took Lily to the doc­tor the next day while I was at my job as a man­ager at Pri­mark.

She called to say Lily had to go for a scan the fol­low­ing day. ‘I’ll take her,’ she said.

But by 3pm the next day,

I still hadn’t heard from Mum. So I rang her.

‘The doc­tor wants to see you,’ she said, sound­ing weird. ‘Why?’ I asked.

‘They just do,’ she in­sisted. So I raced straight to the hos­pi­tal. When I ar­rived, Lily glided up the cor­ri­dor to­wards me. ‘Watch this!’ she smiled, spin­ning around in a per­fect pirou­ette. ‘You’ve made use of the hang­ing around,’ I laughed. I found the doc­tor and he led me into a side ward. ‘We think Lily could have a tu­mour in her shoul­der,’ he said. ‘That’s what’s caus­ing the lump and pain.’ I blinked, hard. ‘OK, so you’ll just re­move it?’ I asked. Con­sid­er­ing he’d just said the word ‘tu­mour’, I wasn’t pan­icked. Lily was so fit, they’d just take it out, and that’d be the end of it… ‘Let’s wait un­til we know for sure,’ he told me. Out­side, Lily was still jig­ging about. I tried to smile but it was frozen.

Surely it couldn’t be can­cer?

Four days later, me and Lily’s dad took her to a spe­cial­ist chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal in Ed­in­burgh.

As we fol­lowed the cor­ri­dors, I saw beds filled with chil­dren. Some had no hair. Sud­denly, I felt sick.

From glit­ter, hair­spray and lip­gloss… to this?

Lily had biop­sies and a lum­bar punc­ture. She was so brave. But the news was the worst it could be.

‘I’m afraid Lily has stage four Ewing’s sar­coma,’ the doc said. ‘It started in her left leg, and has spread to her shoul­der and lungs.’

A scream roared in­side me. It came out as, ‘Noooo! Save her.’

I wasn’t stupid. I knew what stage four meant. Next stage? Death…

Scott was sob­bing. ‘Our in­ten­tion is to cure her,’ the doc­tor as­sured us. ‘Do you want the staff here to tell Lily?’

‘This is my job,’ I sniffed. Back at her bed, I held her hand.

‘Why are you cry­ing?’ she frowned.

‘You know how I said you might have can­cer,’ I whis­pered. ‘Do I?’ she asked.

‘Yes, but you’re go­ing to be fine.’ ‘Will I lose my hair?’ she choked. Her long blonde hair was her pride and joy – we’d do French plaits, high pony­tails and back­comb­ing for com­pe­ti­tions. ‘And what about my danc­ing?’ I tried to hold back a tear. ‘Sweet­heart, you’ll feel poorly and need to rest,’ I told her. But she couldn’t un­der­stand.

She’d faced so many bat­tles on the dance floor – but this was the one she had to win.

The fol­low­ing day, it was even more heart­break­ing when we got the call that Lily had won an au­di­tion to the bal­let school.

‘You won’t be able to go,’ I told her. ‘But you will, one day.’ And ev­ery­one was so kind. Lily’s dance school ar­ranged a week­end in Lon­don for her.

We went to meet the cast of the smash-hit mu­si­cal, 42nd Street.

They wel­comed her on to the stage and even did a lit­tle dance rou­tine with her.

My eyes were full of tears. We vis­ited two more mu­si­cals – Matilda and Mamma Mia! – then on to the fa­mous Pineap­ple Dance stu­dios.

There, wait­ing with a pile of good­ies, was the ex- Strictly Come

Danc­ing judge, Ar­lene Phillips! ‘Is Craig re­ally as moody in real life?’ Lily asked her. ‘He’s a big softie at heart,’ Ar­lene smiled. ‘Now, I know you’re a huge Strictly fan – so keep danc­ing!’

It made Lily’s year. But then it was home to chemo…

Her sparkle dimmed, but it re­fused to go out.

‘Let me show you a rou­tine,’ Lily told the nurses. ‘She’s a fighter,’ they gasped. On day nine, her dance school came to visit, and Lily couldn’t re­sist join­ing them for a show. To see the smile on her face – and the other pa­tients’ faces – was spell­bind­ing.

But on Lily’s se­cond course of chemo, her long hair started to fall out. ‘I wish it wouldn’t,’ she trem­bled. In the end, we had it shaved off. We got Lily a wig, and she spent ages in her room get­ting used to her­self in it.

But on her first day back at dance school, she chucked it on to the floor.

‘Too itchy,’ she gri­maced. From then on, it was Bald Lily. Who even no­ticed, when she had a smile more daz­zling than any glit­ter­ball?

‘She’s al­ways danc­ing in front of the mir­ror,’ I fret­ted to her doc­tor. ‘Should she be rest­ing?’

‘Why stop her?’ he shrugged. ‘She’ll ob­vi­ously dance her way to a cure.’ Now, it’s been four months since her di­ag­no­sis. Next step, death? Not a bit of it. The medics rate her chances of sur­vival at just 15-30 per cent, but it’ll never be cur­tains for my star. Cur­tains up, more likely. We’ve just found out, after end­less biop­sies and scans, that she doesn’t have a tu­mour in her leg – it’s a frac­ture! Lily had been danc­ing on a bro­ken leg for 30 hours a week, and never com­plained. That’s how strong she is. She’ll need some of her shoul­der bone re­moved once she’s fin­ished her 14 rounds of chemo.

But only last month, Lily and her friend won a world ti­tle at the United Dance Or­ga­ni­za­tion World Street Cham­pi­onships in Glas­gow! Ar­lene Phillips still mes­sages to see how she is. And we’ve re­cently started watch­ing the lat­est se­ries of Strictly.

We’re root­ing for Ruth Langs­ford and As­ton Mer­ry­gold. When we went to Lon­don, we were due to go to the This Morn­ing stu­dios, but ran out of time. In­stead, Ruth sent Lily a lovely signed photo, so she’s our fave! We’re even get­ting tick­ets from the Les Hoey char­ity to see the Strictly tour in Fe­bru­ary.

And as for Lily – she has danced her way into the hearts of so many peo­ple, celebs and or­di­nary folk alike.

She is strictly the bravest lit­tle per­son I’ll ever know. And when it comes to beat­ing this hor­ri­ble thing? She’s a per­fect 10…

Her sparkle dimmed but re­fused to go out

She danced her way into the hearts of ev­ery­one Lily and her friends after win­ning a dance con­test

I’m so proud of my lit­tle dance star! Lily was so happy to meet former Strictly judge Ar­lene My dance-mad daugh­ter is a per­fect 10!

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