This time last year the Walters family were huddled around a hospital bed watching their youngest daughter and sister battle for her life.
Now 12 months on, the Porthtowan family are going above and beyond with all things festive as they plan an extra special Christmas in celebration of her “miracle” recovery.
Juan Walters said: “We’re going to make 2013 the best Christmas, we really have gone over the top!”
Caja Walters was admitted to Truro’s Royal Cornwall Hospital on December 8 and, after being diagnosed with appendicitis, swiftly underwent an operation to remove her appendix.
But instead of getting better, the 18 year-old became increasingly unwell.
“I just remember thinking that I was going to die. I have never felt so much pain and I remember turning to mum and saying ‘don’t let me die’,” Caja said.
Doctors were forced to put the teenager in to a coma after it was discovered that the majority of her stomach had been ingested by her lungs, leaving her with a seven per cent breathing capacity.
In addition, it was found that she was suffering from pneumonia and peritonitis.
Mr Walters said: “There were so many thoughts and worries. I knew she was in the best place but it was so difficult because it was our daughter and all we could do was stand back and pray.”
At one point the family weren’t sure that Caja would make it.
Kirsty Walters, one of Caja’s two older sisters, said: “It was such an emotional time as it was so close to Christmas. We started to make some really terrible decisions and plans about what we would do.”
Yet incredibly the strong teenager woke up six days later, and after a short stay in hospital was sent home the day of her sister Holly’s 21st birthday.
“It was so, so emotional, we were so gracious and so thankful. We kept saying it was our miracle, and even the doctors said they didn’t know how she pulled through it.” Kirsty added.
It took several months for Caja to recover, but the determined teen has used her shock illness as inspiration to live life to the full.
Caja said: “I remember thinking that I had got a second chance for a reason and I knew I had to change my life for myself.”
Since her operation she has learnt to drive and returned to Truro College to undertake a medical secretary course.
The experience has left a lasting impacted on the rest of the Walters family, who have all become avid charity supporters.
Over the past 12 months they have raised more than £500 for two charities, The Friends of Royal Cornwall Hospital and Royal Cornwall Hospital Charitable Fund, both of which provided invaluable support while Caja was sick.
The family have also gifted the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with a decoration for the ward’s Christmas tree.
Mr Walters said: “We had an angel decoration made for Caja when we weren’t sure if she was coming home, and now we have given an identical one to the ICU so it can watch over the patients in there.”
Donations can still be made to the Royal Cornwall Hospital Charitable Fund via Kirsty Walker's online Just Giving page.