Sunday, August 2, 2009

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By KATHERINE NEWTON - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2009

Liam Todd
CRAIG SIMCOX/The Dominion Post
TIGHT-HEAD TERRIER: Liam Todd, 8, is back in the game he loves, playing tight-head prop for his Waikanae rugby team after surgery for a facial tumour.

A year after a rare facial tumour sidelined Liam Todd, the eight-year-old is back on the rugby field with a new jaw and a new lease of life.

Last April, Liam was found to have an aggressive myoepithelioma tumour. He was the youngest of just a handful of people in the world to have the rare form of cancer.

Doctors discovered the tumour growing beneath Liam's left eye just two years after his father, Matt Todd, died of brain cancer.

Liam's mum, Rebecca, said the family braced itself for another fight, but specialists at Hutt Hospital's plastic surgery unit were able to remove the tumour and reconstruct the left side of Liam's face using bone from his leg to make a new jaw.

Now Liam has been given the all-clear, after a CT scan six weeks ago showed no sign that the cancer had returned.

With the go-ahead from his plastic surgeon, he has thrown himself back into his favourite sport, playing tight-head prop for his Waikanae under-9 team.

He said his favourite part of the game was "running with the ball" and he had even scored a try. Mrs Todd said Liam was doing really well. "He's got player of the day three times."

She had got over her initial apprehension about letting him back into the fray, she said. "I can't wrap him in cotton wool I've got to let him go."

The family could finally move on now, she said. "Hopefully this is just a little bump on the road and it's all plain sailing from here."