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Little Mia is back at school as family prepare for her treatment in America following rainbow campaign

The father of a little girl undergoing treatment for cancer says everything is now “in place” for them to travel to America for a clinical trial as a rainbow-themed fundraising drive for the youngster reaches £200,000.

Josh Chambers said while “everything is in motion” for five-year-old Mia, from Merthyr Tydfil , to go to America they are taking it one step at a time and are now watching their daughter enjoy as much normality as possible including returning to school after a year away.

Josh has also paid tribute to the NHS and the treatment it has provided for Mia, saying things could have been very different if they lived in another part of the world.

Mia has returned to school after a year away (Photo: Josh Chambers)

Mia was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children – in May 2016, and has been through a multitude of aggressive treatments and procedures since then, including three months of intensive chemotherapy, surgery, a stem cell transplant and radiotherapy.

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 a clinical trial in the US.

It was reported last month how a rainbow-themed fundraising drive managed to raise enough funds for the youngster to go to America for the clinical trial, reaching £170,000. The funds have now topped £200,000 with the funds meaning treatment has been secured for Mia in the US for the next two years.

The fundraising touched the hearts of thousands with shops, businesses, cars and homes in Merthyr Tydfil and across Wales decorated with bows made from multi-coloured ribbons to raise money and awareness of Mia’s campaign.

Mia’s parents Josh and Kirsty are now watching the youngster enjoy some normality including returning to school, while also preparing for the first trip to America which, pending reassessment scans, will hopefully now take place in August.

Dad Josh Chambers, Mia and mum Kirsty

Josh said: “It’s hard to get yourself excited for that yet. We’ve got everything in place.

“Everything’s in motion to go there. We’re concentrating on this month now.”

When Mia was diagnosed last year, her parents decided to keep her off from Gwaunfarren Primary School to avoid her catching illnesses which could have disrupted her treatment plan – instead being taught by teachers while she was on the Rainbow ward at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff.

“She’s outstanding”, Josh said. “She’s back in school again and that’s all going great.

“She’s full of energy, she’s doing marvellous. She’s enjoying school a lot. It’s nice to get some normality back. She does love it.

“The school has been marvellous. From the very beginning, the teachers have been amazing. I was taught in the same school.

“It was our choice (to take her out of school) to lower the risk of Mia picking up anything, general everyday things.

“Even though she was marvellous on treatment, she’s now how she should be.”

People in Wales are attaching ribbons to their cars in support of Mia Chambers (Photo: Peter Bolter)

Josh has also paid tribute to the tremendous work the family has seen first-hand by NHS workers who have treated Mia.

“The NHS has spent an absolute fortune on Mia and there’s never a question about anything.

“The NHS have been amazing with us and given Mia everything she needed.

“If we lived in a different part of the world things could have been a lot different. Whatever she’s needed, she’s had and that’s all down to the NHS.”

The five-year-old is set to start the last part of her treatment in the UK on Monday, set to end in July.

And while the family are set to travel to Michigan for the clinical trial, Josh insists it is no reflection by any means on the treatment Mia has received in the UK.

“This treatment we are seeking is our choice and our choice alone. We’ve found this treatment and been able to get access to it.

“We never thought it’d be possible to get. To smash it (the target) and exceed it as much as we have is amazing.

“It’s like we’re starting over again. We’re starting afresh with a more positive attitude.”

Mia Chambers, from Merthyr Tydfil (Photo: WALES ONLINE)

Josh and Kirsty have previously spoken about how they will be eternally grateful to all those who have supported Mia’s fundraising campaign.

The trial will see the family visit America every three months for the next two years for Mia to receive treatment.

The money raised is more than what is needed to secure Mia’s access to the clinical trial in Michigan and to cover the costs of accessing the treatment over two years. 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 doesn’t need extra funds, the money will be used to help other children and families affected by neuroblastoma.

The Chambers family have been fundraising with Solving Kids’ Cancer, who support children and families affected by neuroblastoma and fund research.

Vicky Inglis, Solving Kids’ Cancer family coordinator, said: “The team at Solving Kids’ Cancer have been astounded by the success of Mia’s fundraising campaign in such a short space of time. We recognise and appreciate all the efforts of everyone involved and whom continue to support Mia.

“Her campaign has reached out to many communities across Wales and beyond. This support has enabled Mia’s family to realise their hopes for their daughter.

“Enough funds have been secured to access the clinical trial [end of treatment scans pending] which her family hope will stop neuroblastoma returning.

“Our work at SKC continues behind the scenes as we support Mia’s family with the detailed planning and logistics required. This will be a busy time for all involved in Mia’s care to ensure that Mia and her family arrive in the required timeframe.

“As Mia nears the end of her treatment here in the UK we join the family in praising and thanking the NHS and Mia’s oncology team for all that they have done to ensure that Mia is eligible to start the next phase of her cancer treatment.

“We wish Mia all the very best over the coming months and thank each and every one of you for supporting Mia’s Journey through her charity, Solving Kids’ Cancer.”

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/little-mia-back-school-family-13228660

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