Like most girls her age, 10-year-old Isabella enjoys Disney, crafting and playing with her friends.
Strong and positive, her maturity is way beyond her years!
Sadly however, Isabella has spent much of her childhood in hospital, fighting hard to be where she is today. She was diagnosed in October 2010 with high risk neuroblastoma, when she was 3 ½ years old. Having gone through a gruelling treatment regime, she achieved remission in April 2012, much to her family’s delight. While they desperately hoped they’d be able to put the nightmare behind them, this hasn’t been possible.
Since Isabella’s diagnosis, she has relapsed a further 3 times, most recently in March 2017.
Isabella is being treated with chemotherapy to try and stop the growth of the tumours but her next stage of treatment may involve a new Phase 1 clinical trial in the UK. With no results from the trial, it’s impossible for everyone involved in Isabella’s care to ascertain whether this will be successful for her. “If the phase 1 trial is unsuccessful then we know we will have to take Isabella overseas for treatment as we will have exhausted all options in the UK,” Jennie and Mark, Isabella’s parents.
Trying to be prepared, they are now researching all options. Should the best option for Isabella exist overseas, which will not be NHS-funded, her parents are appealing for your support to help raise funds to access the treatment when they need to.
“We are devastated to hear that once again, Isabella has relapsed, and once again, she is battling for her life at the age of nine. We now know that options for our beautiful daughter are rapidly running out in the UK.” – Jennie and Mark.
Isabella had always been a very healthy little girl and it was seemingly overnight that she developed pains in her legs whilst walking. Worried that Isabella may have pulled a muscle, her parents took her to their GP. The doctor thought Isabella may have had a viral infection causing inflammation in the muscle area, but decided to seek a second opinion. The family were asked to attend their local paediatric assessment unit where Isabella was kept in overnight for pain relief.
The following day, as Isabella was about to be discharged, her nose began bleeding profusely, causing concerns amongst the doctors. Feeling anxious, Jennie and Mark asked for an MRI on Isabella’s leg. Three hours later, the family were called into a room and were told by the doctor that there was something showing up on Isabella’s scan. At this stage, they were unsure exactly what it was and sought to transfer Isabella to Birmingham Children’s Hospital by ambulance accompanied by a nurse.
Upon arrival, Isabella and her family were taken to the oncology ward where a consultant greeted them. He’d looked at the scans and said he thought it to be neuroblastoma but needed to carry out more tests and scans to confirm the diagnosis.
More tests and scans complete, Jennie and Mark were taken in to a side room and told that their daughter had cancer – stage 4, high risk neuroblastoma. In its most aggressive form, the tumour was wrapped around major arteries running from Isabella’s heart towards her legs.
Jennie and Mark say, “Obviously we had never heard of neuroblastoma but it was like a knife to the stomach, nothing can ever prepare you for that.”
Neuroblastoma is a particularly aggressive form of childhood cancer and the most common cancer outside the brain in children under 5 years old.
Treatment for Isabella commenced immediately on 29th October 2010. The high risk neuroblastoma protocol was gruelling and Isabella received chemotherapy then surgery to her abdomen to remove the main tumour. Surgery was delicate and lasted 8 hours due to the dangerous positioning of the tumour around her arteries. Once recovered from this, Isabella then received a stem cell transplant, immunotherapy and radiotherapy.
Isabella’s treatment ended on the 13th April 2011 and she was given the all clear. The nightmare thought to be behind them, Jennie and Mark focussed on getting their lives back to normal. Isabella started attending school again full time, which she absolutely loved.
Nearly three years in remission, events in February 2015 saw their lives turn upside down once again. “We were devastated when a routine MRI scan showed that unfortunately neuroblastoma had returned in Isabella’s left leg,” Jennie and Mark said.
Having caught the relapse early, they were told the prognosis was good and after three weeks of radiotherapy, Isabella was once again in remission.
Grateful for this news, Mark and Jennie attempted to get back to a normal family life. Isabella was now 8 years old. She went back to school, started dancing and swimming having had her central line removed, which she especially loved as she wasn’t able to do it before.
Then, just 6 months later, things again, turned on their head. During a routine MRI scan for Isabella, Jennie and Mark were called away to speak with Isabella’s consultant. They were told the neuroblastoma had returned. “This time” Jennie said, “the relapse was quite aggressive and Isabella began treatment on the BEACON trial immediately.”
Isabella received twelve cycles of chemotherapy over twelve months after which, scans indicated remarkable news. “Our courageous and brave Isabella had beaten the disease for a third time,” Jennie and Mark said, “we certainly celebrated in style that Christmas, grateful for all the treatment Isabella had received.”
The family and medical team were hopeful that if Isabella took the oral drug, Cis Retinoic Acid, for a period of 6 months that this would keep her cancer away. It was only months later that Isabella, again, complained of leg pains. They feared the worst and devastatingly, scans confirmed the worst; neuroblastoma was back.
Once again, Isabella began chemotherapy.
All of this has taken its toll on the family but inspired by their daughter, the family draw upon Isabella’s positivity. Jennie and Mark say, “As parents we would never have been able to cope and deal with this daily if it wasn’t for Isabella’s inspirational attitude and an army of supporters behind us. No matter how hard it is to hear the words ‘your child has cancer’ the only way to get through it is through a positive outlook. This is generated by Isabella alone. She is ours and everyone’s inspiration.”
Isabella’s fundraising campaign
High-risk neuroblastoma has a high rate of relapse, and the survival rate for relapsed neuroblastoma is less than 10%. This statistic worsens with every relapse. Relapsed neuroblastoma is particularly challenging to treat and there are limited options to treat it; all of which exist in the form of clinical trials, in the UK and overseas. Many families, just like Isabella’s, will choose for their child to access a clinical trial, in the hope that it will prevent a dangerous relapse, or, get their child back in to remission.
Accessing a clinical trial overseas is not NHS funded and can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Supporting Isabella’s fundraising campaign will help to ensure that if Isabella’s family choose for her to access a clinical trial abroad for additional cancer therapy, they are able to realise these aspirations for their little girl.
How you can help
There are many ways you can help Isabella; by making a personal donation; holding a fundraiser; getting sponsored to take on a challenge; or simply following and sharing Isabella’s story through her Facebook page.
Download our free Isabella resources (below) to support your fundraising, and click here for even more resources, including fundraising ideas, templates and guidance.
You can make a donation via this page, or if you’d prefer to text donate, text ISLY88 and your amount £1-£10 to 70070. If you’d like help supporting Isabella’s campaign, please get in touch with the fundraising team on 0207 284 0800 | email@example.com
Terms and Conditions for Journeys
All donations are paid into Solving Kids’ Cancer’s (SKC) general funds to further its general charitable purposes. The funds raised by this Journey are not restricted for the child’s use. However, the trustees of SKC have agreed to designate 90% of funds raised by this Journey to help the child and their family pay for potential future treatment costs and all other associated costs including travel and accommodation. We will use the remaining 10% to pay for SKC’s administrative and fundraising costs.
If the child no longer needs the funds, or if the trustees decide, at their absolute discretion, that the funds should be used for a different purpose, they may redesignate all or part of the 90% for SKC general charitable purposes. We are very grateful for your charitable donation.
For further information about SKC and how we spend donations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solving Kids’ Cancer Europe a registered charity no. 1135601 and registered company no. 7208648.