WHEN Worcester dad Dave Fletcher snapped a cute photo of his 23-month-old daughter Izzy falling asleep in her swing, he thought it was just one of those ‘aww’ moments that characterise childhood.

It was only a few weeks later, when Izzy was diagnosed with leukaemia, that Dave realised her tiredness was possibly a sign of something more sinister.

This year brave Izzy, now aged three, has received a Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Award in recognition of what she has been through. And her family are encouraging anyone who knows a young cancer patient to nominate them for the honour in the run up to Christmas.

The awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, celebrate the strength shown by youngsters who have been diagnosed with and treated for cancer.

All children nominated will receive a trophy, £50 TK Maxx gift card, T-shirt and a certificate signed by a host of famous faces.

Izzy Fletcher was nominated for the award earlier this year by her parents, Dave and Vicky Fletcher.

The couple took Izzy to the GP on a Friday in January 2017 when she came out in a strange rash on her leg. They were advised to come back on Monday for blood tests if the rash had not gone, and to take her straight to hospital if it got worse.

By Saturday morning Izzy’s rash had spread and she then developed a temperature, so her parents took her to Worcester Royal Hospital where she was diagnosed with leukaemia the same day.

“It all happened so fast,” said Dave, 39. “Looking back, Izzy had been tired, had had a few colds or viruses, and quite a bit of bruising on her legs. But we put all this down to normal childhood bumps and minor illness. She had even fallen asleep in her swing a couple of weeks before her diagnosis, and I had taken a cute picture of her. We didn’t think anything more of it, but afterwards we realised it was probably all part of the symptoms.”

Izzy began a course of chemotherapy within days of her diagnosis. She spent her second birthday in Birmingham Children’s Hospital waiting to have a procedure to sample her bone marrow. Since then she has had more than 570 doses of chemotherapy and will remain on treatment until May next year.

Despite everything Izzy has been through, her parents count themselves lucky.

“We were lucky Izzy was diagnosed quickly and lucky she has coped very well with the treatment, suffering very few setbacks or unplanned hospital admissions. We have met many families who haven’t been so fortunate,” said Dave.

“One of the things we’re particularly grateful for was the chance to go on a clinical trial called UKALL 2011, which means that Izzy has had fewer hospital trips, fewer operations, and far less steroids than the standard treatment plan. It shows just how important research is in pioneering new treatments.”

Izzy’s mum, Vicky, 37, added: “Izzy was so excited to receive her award earlier this year. It was a nice positive experience that rewarded her for struggling on with her treatment.  She had a lovely afternoon choosing some things to wear in TK Maxx after she was well enough to venture into town. She’ll keep the Star award to look back on after her two-and-half year course of treatment.”

Around 150 children are diagnosed with cancer in Worcestershire and the West Midlands every year.

Jane Redman, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens in Worcestershire, said: “Cancer can have a devastating impact on their lives and many of those who survive may live with serious long-term side effects from their treatment.

There is no judging panel for the awards because Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens believes every child diagnosed with cancer deserves special recognition.

“Our mission is to fund research to find new, better and kinder treatments for young cancer patients. We want to bring forward the day when every child and young person survives cancer and does so with a good quality of life.

“So we’re calling on people in Worcestershire to nominate inspirational youngsters for this year’s Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards so that we can recognise their incredible courage.”

To nominate a child for an award, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens