Downham Market toddler ready for her miracle mile

A toddler who had to learn to walk three times after being diagnosed with two rare illnesses will take part in a charity walk tomorrow.

Three-year-old Melissa Joyner will join parents Moona and Adam as well as 100 other people to walk one mile around Howdale Playing Field, in Downham Market, at 1pm.

The Downham Market youngster has battled against a rare cancer and another rare illness which left her paralysed and the walk, organised by her parents, will be her next big challenge.

Following tomorrow's walk, balloons will also be released to celebrate those who have defeated cancer and to remember loved ones who lost their battle against cancer. The event will be raising money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

Mrs Joyner, who is from Finland, said: 'We are calling the walk Melissa's Miracle Mile because it's a miracle she is still here and it's going to be a miracle if she completes the mile. It's going to be very hard for her and we probably feel like a marathon to her.'

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She added: 'This walk will also be a celebration because this month is the end of her two-year chemotherapy treatment.'

Melissa was just one when she was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes which is very unusual in young children, in September 2009.

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An intense chemotherapy regime meant she lost her new-found ability to walk and she took no further steps until Christmas Day.

The reprieve did not last long and, in March last year, Melissa was struck by another rare illness called Guillain Barr� Syndrome (GBS) which affects the nervous system and left her paralysed from head to toe.

With the help of physiotherapy, slowly Melissa learned the skills needed to sit up and roll over and, little by little, she started gaining muscle tone and strength.

Now the three-year-old, who has a rare hearing disorder, enjoys ballet and Zumba lessons. She also attends Downham Nursery School and enjoys interacting with other children.

Mrs Joyner continued: 'She has a great attitude on life and her determination is absolutely admirable. She just gets on with whatever life throws at her.

She added: 'She is my inspiration and my hero.'

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