A dream trip to Lapland started the Christmas celebrations for a six-year-old Hucknall boy recovering from testicular cancer.
Jake Barksby, of Tavistock Close, was diagnosed earlier this year, and had to have an operation to remove a 5cm tumour and one of his testicles.
Next came a traumatic 22-week course of chemotherapy, which meant regular trips to hospital with mum Nicola, dad Adam and 11-year-old sister Hollie.
But last week, he rang the bell in hospital to signal the end of his chemotherapy, and four days later, he and the family were on a plane to Lapland for the trip of a lifetime to meet Santa, organised by the Wish Upon A star charity.
Nicola, 35, said: “It was an amazing day. Jake loved the experience. It was magical and breathtaking.
“Lots of snow, lots of fun, lots of adventures and lots of memories made.
“It was lovely watching Jake playing again. But his favourite part of the trip was riding in sleighs pulled by reindeer or husky dogs.”
Nicola, who works for Gedling Borough Council, and Adam, who is a kitchen fitter, were stunned when doctors told them Jake had cancer.
“He wasn't poorly at all, but I just happened to notice that one of his testicles was bigger than the other,” she recalled.
“So we just acted on instinct. Luckily, they caught it early, but it was very scary because it's not the kind of thing you expect to find in a six-year-old.”
Nicola was full of praise for the staff at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where Jake received his treatment.
She said: “They did an amazing job, and I can’t praise them enough. Although it was a horrible experience, they made the time as joyful as they could.
“Jake is fine now and doing really well. We are just building his strength back up. He has his end-of-treatment MRI scan soon, and everyone is very positive.”
In the long term, doctors are confident that Jake, who goes to Edgewood Primary School, can make a full recovery.
In the short term, the family are looking forward to enjoying Christmas after enduring such a challenging year.
Nicola added: “We want a couple of nice, quiet weeks where we can chill out without having to worry about going to hospital.”