We are delighted that Isla’s fundraising campaign with Solving Kids’ Cancer has raised more than the £155,000 target.
This means that the funding is now in place for Isla to travel to the USA for a clinical trial and to cover the associated costs of treatment for its duration.
Isla has been fighting high-risk neuroblastoma since her first birthday, receiving extensive treatment in the UK. As her end of treatment scans showed no evidence of the disease, we are now just waiting for a date for her to start the trial at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.
The prospect of cancer coming back is extremely high for children like Isla, and if it does, there’s a less than 1 in 10 chance of survival. So, Isla’s parents have chosen for her to have a treatment called the bivalent vaccine, a clinical trial that we all hope will help prevent her cancer from returning.
We’d like thank everyone in the local community for your overwhelming generosity, love and support in raising this money for Isla and her family. We are so grateful for your ongoing fundraising efforts.
Any funds raised above what’s needed for Isla will be held for her with SKC for a period of five years after all her treatment finishes. We really hope that Isla will not need extra funds during this time, but if she does, they’ll be available. If not, they’ll be used to help other children and families affected by neuroblastoma through our work.Isla’s been fighting high-risk neuroblastoma since her first birthday. She is lively, happy, playful and bubbly, and enjoys playing with her twin sister, Lottie and older brother, Finn. Like most girls her age, Isla loves being creative and adores anything pink, sparkly and cuddly! Playing outdoors is another favourite of hers but since the diagnosis, family dynamics have changed.
Isla has received extensive treatment and undergone numerous procedures as part of her treatment plan. Having responded well so far, the family hope that she’ll have no evidence of disease following the final part of her treatment – immunotherapy – at the end of December.
But the prospect of a relapse is extremely real for Isla; and relapsed neuroblastoma has a less than 1 in 10 chance of survival.
Ever positive and prepared to fight, Rick and Anna have chosen for Isla to access the Bivalent Vaccine clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, in the hope that it will help prevent the cancer returning. Isla’s end of treatment scans must show no evidence of disease to make this possible. They must also raise the necessary funds.
Desperate for their daughter to have the best chance of life, they are appealing for your help to raise £155k. These funds will cover the cost of the treatment, the associated costs of accessing the treatment (e.g. travel and accommodation) and ensure a contingency fund for any unforeseen complications whilst overseas.
“It’s an overwhelming amount of money to raise but we are determined to give Isla the best chance. Even if it gives her one extra day, then it would have been worth it for us.” Rick and Anna, Isla’s parents.
Anna says, “Last Christmas Isla was home but she was very unwell, underweight and had not long finished her chemotherapy. She had no hair and she had tubes in her nose. She looked like a child with cancer. Unable to sit properly due to open wounds from a bone marrow aspiration on her lower back, our hope this year is that she’ll be running around opening presents like other children her age.”
Inseparable, Isla and her twin sister, Lottie have a close bond. But in the summer of 2016, while Lottie was starting to run around, Isla seemed lethargic in comparison. Anna and Rick recall how Isla just wanted to sleep. They took her to the doctor’s and were told that Isla most likely had a viral infection.
But when a lump became visible on her face, near her jaw, Isla’s parents took her back to the local GP. She was diagnosed with mumps. Rick and Anna were warned that it was highly contagious and that it was likely that her brother and sister would also get it. When they didn’t, and the mass kept growing, they took Isla back to the GP. It was the day before Isla and Lottie’s 1st birthday.
“Things escalated very quickly,” say Rick and Anna. “The Doctor suspected an infection and advised us to take Isla to Watford General Hospital.”
At the hospital, Isla underwent various scans and the following day, they were given the devastating news that the mass on Isla’s face was in fact a tumour. They were taken by ambulance to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
“We were numb with shock. Our lives had changed in a heartbeat. One day we were living normal lives then literally overnight, everything was different.”
On arrival to Great Ormond Street Hospital, the news got worse. They were told that Isla had stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, and that the situation was serious.
High-risk neuroblastoma is a particularly aggressive form of the disease, which is the most common cancer outside the brain in children under 5 years of age.
Devastatingly, scans and tests revealed that Isla had four tumours; the largest of which was 9cm long in her adrenal gland, resting on her kidney. She also had a tumour on her face, one in her ribs and a small one on her leg.
Isla’s parents were told by the medical team that Isla’s chance of survival was just 50%. They say, “For any parent, this is a horrendous number to hear.”
Isla’s chemotherapy regime began the next day and whilst the side effects were severe, by January 2017, three of her tumours had disappeared. The tumour nearest her kidney had shrunk enough for surgery to go ahead to try to remove what was left. After a seven hour operation, Rick and Anna were delighted to hear that the entire tumour had been removed.
Although removal of the tumour increased Isla’s chance of survival, more intensive treatment to complete the treatment plan followed soon after recovering from her operation. This included high dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant, which Isla’s parents describe as “horrendous”. Isla broke her leg twice because the treatment left her bones so weak. Isla also endured 14 sessions of radiotherapy under a general anaesthetic over a 3 week period. She then went on to receive 6 months of immunotherapy.
The impact of Isla’s diagnosis has been tough on all the family – especially Isla’s siblings. While Finn enjoys rough and tumble play with Lottie, he is aware that Isla is unwell so is very gentle with her. For Lottie, spending so much time apart from Isla has been difficult. She would crawl around looking for her twin everywhere, and as a result, has formed a strong bond with Finn.
“Despite her aggressive treatment, Isla continues to smile and is an inspiration to everyone.
Cancer shouldn’t happen to children. They shouldn’t know the word ‘cancer’ but sadly they do.” Rick and Anna.
Isla’s Fundraising Campaign
Relapse rates for neuroblastoma are high, and 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, some in the UK and some abroad. Many families, just like Isla’s, will choose for their child to access these experimental therapies in an attempt to get their child back into remission, or to help prevent a relapse occurring. By supporting Isla’s Appeal, you’ll be helping Isla to access additional therapy in New York to try to prevent her relapsing.
How you can help
There are many ways you can help Isla; by making a personal donation; holding a fundraiser; getting sponsored to take on a challenge; or simply following and sharing Isla’s story through her Facebook page.
Download our free Isla 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 ISLA12 and your amount £1 – £10 to 70070. If you’d like help supporting Isla’s campaign, please get in touch with the fundraising team on 0207 284 0800 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Although Isla is ‘cancer free’ we can’t risk the cancer coming back. That’s why we are doing everything we can as parents to make sure that it doesn’t come back.” Isla’s parents, Anna and Rick.