'Miracle' double milestone as Robyn starts secondary school on 13th birthday
A girl who has battled cancer since the age of three celebrated her 13th birthday and started secondary school on the same day.
Robyn Smyth, from Whitehall, Dublin, has neuroblastoma and was given only a 20 to 30pc chance of survival when she was first diagnosed.
Her big day becoming a teenager was marked by blowing out candles on her birthday cake and wading through hundreds of cards from family, friends and fundraisers from around the country and as far away as Australia.
Following years of treatment, Robyn went into remission but the cancer returned, showing up in her spine, pelvis and legs.
Her latest health scare came last month, when fluid built up around her heart, but again she managed to pull through, thanks to the medical staff at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
It was when her chances of survival dropped to a mere 5pc that her family decided to raise funds to take her to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Michigan.
So far, it has cost hundreds of thousands of euro, and the fundraising continues.
"Its a miracle to reach such a huge milestone," said Robyn's mum, Bernadette.
"I'm always hopeful and always believed she would make it this far.
"We do our best to make sure she gets the best treatment, but the reason Robyn is still here is because she has the will to survive.
"She deserves more than I could ever give her. She's my world."
Her family also hope that Robyn, who had a sleepover with pals for her birthday, makes new friends in Clonturk Community College, an Educate Together school in Whitehall.
"She missed out on so much school the last few years," said Bernadette.
"We hope we can get her into remission soon so she can have some normality back.
"The next step is a vaccine trial in New York, but she's only eligible if we get a clear scan, and at the moment she still has disease in her spine and pelvis."
Robyn will be heading back to the US next month for more scans to monitor how her cancer battle is progressing.
Donations can be made at www.robynslife.com or gofund me.com/robynslife.