THE parents of 'Tiny Dancer' Lily-Mae Morrison have told of their "renewed belief" that they will enjoy many more Christmas celebrations with their brave daughter.
This time last year, the courageous five-year-old was recovering from an operation to remove a large tumour from her kidney.
The little girl, from Claregalway in Co Galway, also still had dangerous cancer levels and was preparing to undergo weeks of high-dose chemo-therapy in an isolation unit at Crumlin Children's Hospital in Dublin.
Lily-Mae's mother Judith said: "We were in a very different place last Christmas. At that stage, things were really bad."
Judith and husband Leighton also have a three-year-old son, Evan.
Lily-Mae captured the hearts of the public last Christmas after the release of a cover version of the Elton John song, 'Tiny Dancer'. It went on to soar up the singles charts to No 2.
Last October, Lily-Mae was declared cancer-free for the first time in 17 months, after tests revealed no traces of the disease.
Just weeks later, she began the first phase of a groundbreaking clinical trial at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in the US.
The treatment, called DFMO and designed specifically for children whose cancer is in remission, requires her to travel to Michigan in the US four times a year for three days at a time. The next visit is scheduled for late January.
Judith said her main priority for the moment was to ensure her daughter had a "magical family Christmas". Recalling the family's last Christmas, she said: "The cancer was still there and Lily-Mae was about to be treated in isolation at Crumlin for seven weeks.
"Although we didn't want to think it, we were thinking the worst last year and were beside ourselves with worry.
"But at the moment she is cancer-free and is looking well and is very happy. We will start next year with much more optimism for the future."