Battling youngster Jessica Holmes finally had something to smile about this week.
The brave two-year-old, who has been battling months of gruelling treatment for leukaemia, was able to return home after being released from hospital.
Just weeks ago, Jessica astounded doctors with a miraculous recovery from a three week coma.
As reported in the Guardian last week, Jessica’s parents were twice told their daughter would not survive the night.
But at the weekend Jessica and her family even managed to squeeze in a much-needed trip to the seaside.
Mum Mandy, 40, said: “It’s such a good feeling having her home after she was stuck in hospital for so long.
“I ask her every night what she wants to do the following day, and at the weekend she said she wanted to go to Blackpool.
“We spent the day on the beach making sand castles and watching the donkeys, and Jess loved it.
“She has spent the weekend smiling and laughing, and it’s a pleasure to see.”
It’s also a relief for Jessica’s older brother Dylan, 13, who has spent a lot of time staying with family friends and neighbours while his parents took turns to visit Jessica in hospital.
“It’s great to be one happy family again,” Mandy said.
“Dylan loves playing with his little sister and having her home.”
Jessica was diagnosed last year after constantly catching colds and in September was so poorly she was sleeping for 23 hours at a time.
Doctors initially diagnosed her illness as a cold but worried parents Mandy and Bob took her to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where they say she was given antibiotics for a bacterial infection.
The following day Jessica’s GP arranged for her to go straight to the hospital’s children’s ward, where she was given a blood transfusion before doctors arranged an emergency transfer to Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Her parents were then given the devastating news their daughter had life-threatening leukaemia, and needed chemotherapy straight away.
“That was it, everything changed from then,” said Mandy, 40.
Jessica was in hospital for over a month while doctors battled to treat the disease, and she was finally allowed home for Christmas.
She had weekly blood checks at Manchester, but for two months she appeared to be doing fine.
But in February she developed a series of lung infections which led to a collapsed lung. She was taken back to hospital and put into a coma. Her parents were told her organs were shutting down. Twice they were told she would not survive the night.
Yet, amazingly, she did. Against the odds, she fought back, astonishing medical professionals.
And while her treatment continues, she was finally allowed home, to Toulmin Close, Catterall, near Garstang.
Mandy said: “Twice when we were in hospital we were told Jessica might not make it. We were praying for a miracle, and it happened. We are in a dream world – our own little bubble. Jessica’s doing fine at the moment, and we’re just taking each day as it comes.”