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Brave five-year-old Hanna enjoys her dream day meeting Santa before what could be her last ever Christmas

by VICTORIA O'HARA

Smiling from Santa's knee and holding a present, Hanna Ferjani looks like any other excited child visiting the festive grotto.

But behind the smiles lies the sadness that this could be her last ever Christmas.

Just three months ago five-year-old Hanna was diagnosed with a brain stem tumour.

Her family were also told the heartbreaking news that the type of tumour she had – Pontine Glioma– was inoperable.

But on Saturday, the little girl from Larne who loves toys, had her wish come true and met Santa.

She was then treated to a spending spree in a toy store.

The day was organised through the Make A Wish Foundation and Dobbies Garden Centres and left Hanna "overwhelmed".

The brave little girl's family was left devastated after she was diagnosed at the end of August.

After spotting a squint in her eye Hanna's mother Tania took her to the optician thinking she just needed glasses.

"We took her to the opticians and they had us whisked up to the Children's Royal and we got an MRI and that was it. We were told straight away – there was nothing they could do."

Full-time mum Tania said Hanna showed no other symptoms: "She is the healthiest, sporty wee girl."

"The tumour is in the brain stem and chemo would not work."

Tania said there are no words to describe the shock at being told your child has an inoperable tumour. "The family are so supportive I just want to thank them," she added.

Hanna then underwent six weeks of radiotherapy, during which her mum described her as "amazing".

"She never once complained," said Tania.

On Saturday the brave Moyle Primary School pupil was picked up from her home in Co Antrim by limousine and brought to Lisburn to meet Santa.

"She got the surprise – she would be going on Santa's sleigh around the city," her mum said.

"Hannah loved it – she was overwhelmed in a good way. She sat in the sleigh and was looking at him out the side of her eyes – she just couldn't believe she was sitting beside him! It was brilliant," she added.

"It was just exactly what she would have wanted–every wee girl's dream."

The day ended with Hanna being met by an elf at the Toys 'R Us to go on a shopping spree.

"The people at Dobbies and Make a Wish could not have done more for us. They were brilliant."

Tania also said the support from the people in Larne has also been overwhelming.

Indeed, big-hearted townspeople have donated enough money for another special treat for Hanna – the family will fly to Disneyland, Paris next month.

"The kindness from people has just been so unreal," said Tania.

"The money they've donated means we can go to Disneyland in Paris on December 9."

Tania said the memories Hanna are getting now are precious.

"We have been given nine to 12 months and we are taking it one day at a time. So we are just looking forward to Disneyland, Paris and then Christmas – after that we have no idea."

Hanna returns to the doctor in a month for a check-up after her radiotherapy.

"We have four more weeks to wait while her tumour goes down after the treatment," Tania said, "then we see just how long we have with her. At the minute she is in fabulous form, so we have to be thankful for that."

BACKGROUND

The Make-a-Wish Foundation grants magical wishes to children and young people aged from three to 17 living with a life-threatening condition. More than 20,000 children in the UK are living with life-threatening conditions. The organisation has around 700 volunteers across the country. Since being established in 1986, it has granted more than 8,000 wishes. To donate go to www.make-a-wish.org.uk/fundraising/donate/

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