LITTLE Anna Penman is proving to be a survivor.
Last year, the four-year-old, who suffers a debilitating condition called spinal muscular atrophy [SMA], was diagnosed with leukaemia.
She is believed to be the only patient in Britain to be treated for both conditions at the same time.
Rounds of intensive chemotherapy have left the girl from Linlithgow wheelchair-bound and susceptible to killer infections, but Anna has not let the setbacks slow her down.
Her resilience has led to her being nominated for the Sick Kids Heroes awards in the “patient that fills us with admiration” category.
Mother Ann Marie Penman, who made the nomination, said her daughter’s attitude in spite of her illnesses had been inspirational.
She said: “Nobody has ever had both conditions before, as far as we know, so there is no precedent for treatment. The life-saving chemotherapy has had a devastating impact on the little strength she had left in her legs and we don’t know if, or when, it might return.
“Yet Anna inspires me with her approach to life. She is a bright, assertive and determined young lady. She is eager to explore the world, make friends and be the same as any other four-year-old.
“She doesn’t let SMA or leukaemia get in the way of anything she wants to do. She insists on trying everything and often can be heard shouting ‘I can do it on my own’.”
Anna was diagnosed with SMA in July 2011 following a year of tests, consultations and visits to the Sick Kids hospital.
The condition is a muscle-wasting disease that has left her very weak, meaning Anna is unable to walk and suffers from severely restricted arm movement.
SMA is thought to affect only about four out of every 100,000 people.
Ann Marie admitted: “She needs help with absolutely everything, all day and through the night.”
The family had a major breakthrough earlier this month, with funds secured for a state-of-the-art wheelchair that is giving Anna increased freedom to get around without the help of carers.
The Heroes awards have been launched to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, recognising the outstanding contributions made by staff and supporters, and the courage of patients. Nominations must be submitted by April 11 at www.edinburghsickkids.org/events/nominate, by phoning 0131- 668 4949, or by sending in our coupon.