Santa Claus and a few festive friends helped make some special Christmas memories for a little girl from Angus as she prepares for life-threatening surgery.
Kinsley McMillan was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour in September last year, when she was just five months old.
Now 21 months, the Forfar youngster is preparing for major surgery in January to prolong her life.
Without it, doctors say she may only live for two or three months.
Kinsley has already had crucial surgeries and gruelling chemotherapy and in January almost died during surgery.
She spent another three months in hospital and the tumour has left Kinsley completely blind.
On Monday, the brave youngster was paid a visit by Santa, the Grinch, a snowman and and a couple of elves.
Kinsley’s mum Eden, 21, said: “Everyone was so excited about the visit so although Kinsley couldn’t see the special visitors she could pick up on everyone else’s excitement and she knew they were here.
“It was amazing that they could visit Kinsley at home. She doesn’t really like going out and being among too many people.
“Home is Kinsley’s safe place so it was brilliant Santa and the others visited her here.
“This has given us all some lovely Christmas memories.”
The visit was arranged by Bobbi Murray, a Forfar woman who follows a blog about Kinsley’s illness, called Kisses from Kinsley.
Kinsley’s gran Karen Kennedy said: “For now we want Kinsley to be happy and make as many memories as possible with her.
“She has been having music and beauty therapy this month, as well as the visit from Santa and his helpers.
“We are going to treasure every second this Christmas. We are so grateful to Bobbi and her helpers.
“Kinsley isn’t really up for going out and about right now, she just wants to cuddle and kiss her family at home where she feels safe.”
Mum ‘dreading’ surgery
Kinsley and Eden are now preparing for further surgery at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh on January 5.
The life-threatening operation could last up to 12 hours and aims to remove 80% of the tumour, called an optic nerve glioma, from Kinsley’s brain.
Eden admitted she is dreading the surgery but has agreed to go ahead as she knows it’s the only chance to prolong her daughter’s life.
She explained that the surgery won’t cure Kinsley but the hope is it will make her live long enough to allow other possible treatments to become available in future.
Eden said: “It will be a very risky and a big operation.
“I hate that she has to go through this but it really is a last resort for us.
“I’m hoping it will buy Kinsley some time for other possible treatments to become available.
“Her tumour has become really aggressive and is now growing much quicker than everyone believed it would. We have to do something.”
Eden explained recently the tumour’s behaviour has been changing, adding: “This means nothing is working and at the current rate of growth Kinsley maybe has only two or three months left to live.
“I’m really scared and I’m not even overly optimistic about how the operation will go.
“It’s now either this or she will definitely die sooner rather than later. Right now I’m trying not to thing too much about the operation.”
Gran Karen described the situation as a “gun pointed in your back”.
“Kinsley’s results from the MRI were the worst they could be,” she said.
“We won’t give up hope yet and Eden has made the very difficult decision to have the tumour surgically removed to buy time for Kinsley to find effective treatment for her.
“Life at the moment is to keep Kinsley safe, happy and alive to become prepared for this major life-threatening surgery.
“This surgery will leave Kinsley with a damaged pituitary gland and other neurological difficulties so making this decision wasn’t easy.
“Watching your child suffer is just the worst thing ever and nothing else matters, nothing comes close.
“Until your child is medically fragile it’s not something that can be understood. Living with a child with cancer is like having a gun pointed in your back.”
What is a glioma?
Gliomas are brain tumours which can be extremely difficult to treat because of the way they grow.
This is different to other solid tumours and makes surgical removal of the entire tumour almost impossible.
Karen said: “Gliomas have a tendril-like appearance which can extend some distance from the main tumour mass into surrounding normal brain tissue.
“The aim of cancer surgery normally is to remove the whole tumour in one piece, with clear margins of healthy tissue around the tumour.
“This generally isn’t able to be done with a glioma, where a balance has to be made between tumour removal and risks to cognitive function, or even immediate patient survival.
“To remove the entire tumour could involve major and catastrophic damage, so some tumour is inevitably left which can then regrow in the initial tumour site or in other areas of the brain.”