Family launch fundraising campaign for Newry girl (3) battling rare cancer
THE family of a three-year-old Newry girl battling a rare form of cancer have launched a fundraising campaign for treatment in the US as they say they know the disease will "probably come back".
Claire and Paddy Treanor said their little girl Ellen faces an uncertain future as she continues to fight stage four high-risk neuroblastoma.
The family's life was turned upside down in January when following a series of visits to the doctor with stomach pains, Ellen was diagnosed with the aggressive childhood cancer.
She began eight cycles of chemotherapy with tough side effects, surgery to remove the tumour, and suffered sepsis and fluid on her lungs.
With more high dose chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and antibody treatment, it has been a gruelling time for Ellen, who has spent much of the year in hospital.
The family hope when her current treatment finishes she will be in remission, but Mrs Treanor said they are "very aware that the cancer can come back" and are making plans to prepare for that eventuality.
In around 40-50 per cent of children with high-risk neuroblastoma, the cancer returns and of those children fewer than one in 10 will survive.
Ellen's family are now fundraising in case they need to access treatment or clinical trials not available through the NHS.
They hope to raise the necessary money for a potentially life-saving trial in America that will give their daughter the best possible chance of survival.
"We are trying to be prepared, we know that time might not be in our hands, so the more we can do now, the better," said Mrs Treanor.
"As soon as Ellen finishes her front-line treatment here, we hope she will be in remission afterwards, then we hope she will be able to do one of two clinical trials in America.
"The aim of these trials is to stop the cancer coming back, because if it comes back, there’s not a great prognosis.
"So hopefully, we'll get her on one of those trials, but you're obviously talking hundreds of thousands of pounds to take her to America and the cost of the treatment so we want to raise as much money as possible ahead of then.
"We don't even know if she'll get to that stage, but that's our hope."
As part of the efforts to raise funds, the family held a Disney-themed concert earlier this year and plans are in place for relatives and friends to take part in several other events, including a Bessbrook Duathlon, 'A Night for Ellen' and quiz nights.
"The support has been amazing, we can't thank everyone enough, from the medical staff that have looked after Ellen her, our friends and family and the community who continue to support us, they have all been fantastic," Mrs Treanor said.
"If you can donate, we would be so grateful, every penny counts. We just want to do everything we can to help Ellen."
For further information see Ellen's Journey on Facebook.