After a doctor’s appointment on December 27 Skye, now five, was referred to hospital where scans revealed a 6cm x 5cm x 4cm mass.
As the tumour – a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma – starts behind the bridge of Skye’s nose, wraps under her left eye and ends at the back of her skull Ruth says doctors can’t operate without ‘mutilating’ her daughter’s face.
Instead of surgery, over the last four months Skye, from Blackpool, UK, has endured nine rounds of chemotherapy and travelled to Florida in March for 31 rounds of proton beam therapy and three rounds of radiotherapy.
Despite not being able to shake the feeling her little girl was going to die after hearing the words ‘cancer’ and ‘inoperable’, Ruth says Skye’s strength, bravery and unrelenting smile has given her hope.
Ruth, who is a full-time carer for her husband Michael Brierley, said: ‘When they told us Skye had a tumour, I collapsed onto the floor and cried for 10 minutes before looking up at the specialist and asking ‘are you telling me my child has cancer?’
‘When she said ‘yes’ Michael started to cry and I just said ‘we’ve lost her, she isn’t going to survive this’.
‘Michael is still stuck on that, he can’t get past that day at all. But Skye is putting up the biggest fight ever. We are so proud of her.
‘She is incredibly brave and she does not stop smiling no matter what you throw at her. She is my superhero.
‘I used to ask myself ‘why my child?’ and I even found myself wishing it had happened to one of my other kids because they were all so much stronger than Skye.
‘But she has proven to be the strongest of all of us. And now I see maybe it happened to my child because another child would not have been able to cope like she has. She is amazing.
‘The only thing she has really struggled with is losing her hair. She loves Disney and the princesses and she asks me sometimes ‘will I be pretty again when my hair grows back?’.
‘How do you explain to a five year old that she is and always will be beautiful with or without her hair? It has been really heartbreaking seeing her struggle with it.
‘But she takes everything else in her stride and her bravery has given me so much hope. It has completely changed my mindset.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer that develops in soft tissue cells.
The only other symptom Skye had in the lead up to her diagnosis was tiredness but Ruth and Michael put this down to the hard work their daughter had been putting into her school nativity.
‘Skye has got to fight it herself. All I can do is hold her hand and be there for her,’ her mum said.