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Defying the odds, Ka'iulani celebrates fifth birthday at home after battle with rare cancer

For the first time in years, Ka'iulani Forbes woke up in her own bed on her birthday morning.

Ka'iulani Forbes and her family on her fifth birthday Source: Supplied

The youngster turned five on Wednesday. It's a milestone for most children but an-extra special one for the Forbes family as Ka'iulani was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer three years ago.

The brave youngster was given just a 20 per cent chance of survival and spent months in Spain receiving treatment for the neuroblastoma.

Since returning home to New Zealand in January, she's been doing a lot better.

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Ka'iulani still spends on average two days a week at Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital, but her mum Moana said she's very vibrant and has a lot more energy compared to the same time last year.

The five-year-old has one questionable spot being monitored, but Moana said there's an 80 per cent chance of it being safe. However, she still undergoes scans and testing, and therefore is well-known around the hospital with doctors and staff.

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Chiefs star Messam is a key supporter of two-year-old Ka'iulani as she battles a rare form of cancer. Source: Seven Sharp

Moana said she'd always prayed her daughter would reach five and go to school. Now the day has arrived and she's preparing for school it's "a constant reminder of miracles".

"She really wants to be social. She's live most her life in hospital and she just loves interaction," she said. 

Talks are going on to make a plan for Ka'iulani to attend school - it might start with two or three days a week - but will depend on her health.

"Every birthday is just a blessing," Moana said, adding that Ka'iulani has defied the odds with her battle of the disease.

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Last year they told Ka'iulani a different date for her birthday because she was so unwell, on pain medication and undergoing "gruelling treatment". This year she woke in her own bed, had a proper Christmas breakfast, celebrated with loved ones and with two cakes.

"In true Ka'iulani tradition there always has to be multiple cakes on her birthday and that's something I'm absolutely willing to do," Moana said.

"My heart is overflowing with so much happiness and joy to see her reach and punch for the sky everyday.

"We made it to five years and this is truly an answered prayer."

Ka'iulani's family at Auckland airport. Source: Facebook

Ka'iulani loves celebrating her birthday, so it was special for the family to see her so happy and mobile this year.

"We cherish every day," Moana said, thanking the public, especially radio host Dominic Harvey, for the donations they received throughout their journey.

"Our family are forever grateful for everyone who've supported us. It took the pressure and stress off us and we're forever grateful every birthday we think of everyone.

"One day we'll help others in this position. Pay it forward."

Ka'iulani and new baby brother Manaoterangi. Source: Facebook