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The family of a little Hornchurch girl who bravely fought cancer are distraught after her illness returned.

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Joni-Mai Stevens, seven, went into remission in September 2012, but cancerous cells have since been discovered in at least two places on her body.

She began a course of chemotherapy on Wednesday, but the severity of her relapse will not be known until the course has concluded.

Joni-Mai’s heartbroken grandmother Trish Walsh, 47, said: “It is just devastating really, she’s only a baby.

“We have got no prognosis yet, so it is very worrying now.”

Joni-Mai, who attends Scotts Primary School, of Bonington Road, suffers from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer which usually affects teenage boys.

She was taken to hospital for scans over a month ago after a lump on her head did not vanish. It was then that her parents, Holly and Kevin Stevens, were told the cancer had spread to her skull and ribs and possibly her neck or spine.

Trish said: “With the cancer she has, there is always the risk of it coming back; it can hide in bones. It is a very unpleasant cancer.

“For a little girl of that age to lose her hair once is devastating anyway, but for her to lose it a second time, that’s horrible.

“It has been horrible for everybody.”

Joni-Mai’s family, who held a Christmas party for her earlier this month, hosted a festive fete on Sunday to cover costs incurred by her treatment and to raise money in case she needs to travel abroad for treatment in the future.

It took place from 10am to 2pm at the Romford and Gidea Park Rugby Club, of Crow Lane, Romford.

Trish added: “On the whole Joni-Mai is so upbeat, she’s amazingly strong. It puts me to shame to be honest.”

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