A three-year-old Worcestershire boy has surprised medics at Birmingham Children's Hospital by surviving 33 operations since December.
Marshall Gormley, of Warndon in Worcester was rushed to hospital just days before Christmas last year with a stomach bug.
A scan at the hospital revealed "masses" in his stomach and kidneys which doctors revealed were cancerous. Marshall was diagnosed with non- Hodgkin ' s lymphoma.
Surgeons opted to shrink the tumours with chemotherapy rather than remove it surgically.
The treatment left him with a perforated bowel and weakened organ tissue. So with each operation to repair his small bowel, another fragile part would be damaged.
Marshall is thought to be the only child in the world to survive this rare condition.
His parents Paul Gormley and Anna Mapp hope the next two operations - the first of which is tomorrow - will be the last he has to endure.
Marshall, who is fed liquid meals through tubes, will then prepare for his 35th operation as he celebrates his fourth birthday next month.
Doctors hope by the time he turns five, Marshall may be able to enjoy a slice of birthday cake. Miss Mapp, aged 25, and partner Mr Gormley, aged 33, are by their son's bedside at the hospital all day, every day.
But for Miss Mapp, the whole ordeal has brought back memories of the couple's firstborn son, who died two days
after he was born in 1997.
"It's a cruel world. It took us a while to consider having another child, so for Marshall then to have cancer is quite depressing really - but we're coping, we've got to," she said.
"He is still a boisterous three-year-old but because he's
been in a bed all this time, his leg muscles have just wasted so he's having to learn to walk again."
Marshall's surgeon Max Pachl added: "He's still got a long way to go but he's continually surprised us every day, he's come so far."