A rainbow-themed campaign to send Mia Chambers to America saw an entire community get behind it.
A little girl is set to travel to America to begin treatment aimed at preventing her cancer from returning – after a rainbow-themed fundraising campaign raised more than a quarter of a million pounds.
Five-year-old Mia Chambers will head to Michigan with parents Josh and Kirsty on Monday after their campaign target has been topped.
Rainbows in Merthyr – Mia’s hometown – have become synonymous with the youngster in recent months.
A rainbow-themed campaign to raise funds to give the youngster access to a clinical trial – aimed at avoiding a relapse – has seen residents of Merthyr, and many parts of Wales, decorate their cars, businesses, and homes with rainbow-coloured ribbons.
In May, it was announced that £170,000 had been raised for the little girl. Just three months later, it’s now been revealed that the total now stands at around £280,000.
Mia first became unwell in early 2016 when a cancerous lump was discovered in her stomach and she was taken to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff.
Further tests confirmed the lump was stage four high risk neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children.
Since the diagnosis, Mia has been through a series of aggressive treatments and procedures including three months of intensive chemotherapy, surgery, a stem cell transplant and radiotherapy.
Her dad Josh Chambers has revealed doctors now believe Mia is free of cancer, and the family is preparing to head to the US to finally begin a clinical trial.
It is the culmination of months of campaigning and fundraising.
Their first appointment with the hospital is on Tuesday, with Mia’s final scan scheduled for Wednesday.
It is hoped Mia will then begin the trial – known as DFMO – on Thursday.
Josh said: “We’ve had all the scans. The doctors are happy and believe Mia is still free of her disease. We have one more scan in America.”
Speaking about Mia’s progress, he said: “She’s brilliant. She’s doing extremely well.
“You don’t have to stay in hospital overnight, it’s just general daily visits.
“It’s just the three of us going. We plan on being there quite often over the next two years. You can slowly get used to your surroundings.
“We’ll make a little stay of it and go from there. We’ll just have a general look around.
“It’s a nice place to be and there’s plenty of things to do. We’ll have a bit of fun.”
Mia’s family have been fundraising with Solving Kids’ Cancer, who support children and families affected by neuroblastoma.
Josh said: “We’re going into it with a positive attitude, and we’ve had extremely good news off our doctors.
“They are happy with Mia’s progress.
“There’s no pressure on us thinking we’ve got to explain this to this doctor, and go through the full story. They have got everything.
“They have assessed Mia without even seeing her.”
With cancer experts saying patients with neuroblastoma have a high rate of relapsing, Mia’s family believe her best chance of avoiding that is to undergo the clinical trial in the US.
Any funds raised above what is needed will be held for a period of five years post-treatment, which is due to end in 2019.
If Mia does not need additional funds, the money will be used to help other children and families affected by neuroblastoma.
The Chambers family are incredibly grateful to everyone for fundraising for their little girl.
“There’s still things going on – we’re up to £280,000”, Josh said.
“We’ll never be able to thank them enough. Every single person has helped us get something that we never thought possible.
“You could never thank every single person enough. They have made it possible for us.”
With the journey being Mia’s first flight, the youngster has been busy decorating the family’s suitcases and backpacks, and her teddy bears, with rainbows for the journey.
“We’re finally using our rainbow bows! It’s our first time travelling with Mia’s travel bows.
“She’s always been well, but then you say that and a couple of weeks later she’s 10 times better than she was. She’s doing marvellous.”
On Friday, the family posted: “Look who’s ready to travel to the USA!!!
“Thanks to all who helped make this happen! Massive thank you also to Solving Kids’ Cancer for giving us the opportunity and support in getting Mia onto the DFMO trial (none of this would have been accessible without them).
“Huge thank you to Mia’s doctors and nurses at Rainbow ward, Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for saving our baby’s life.
“A huge well done also to the superstar in all of this, Mia, for battling through each and every thing that’s been thrown at her, the way she’s dealt with everything has made us deal with it all that little bit easier!”
This article was first published by Wales Online.