By Andy Hirst
Seven-year-old Eden Smith is off to the USA this weekend to begin treatment to try to stop an aggressive cancer from coming back.
The Wooldale youngster has been battling the illness for most of the last 17 months and has gone through incredibly gruelling treatment but has finally just got the all-clear from cancer.
Eden was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in April 2021, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40% to 50% chance of long-term survival at diagnosis and affects fewer than 100 children in the UK every year. Scans and tests showed the cancer was in seven places around Eden’s body.
She has completed gruelling chemotherapy, undergone a major nine-hour operation and had stem cell treatment involving a 35-day isolation stay in hospital, radiotherapy and immunotherapy treatment. To prevent the cancer returning Eden now needs pioneering Bivalent Vaccine treatment which is only available in New York and the Huddersfield community rallied round the family to raise the money needed for them to go.
Eden lives with mum Jen, dad Lee and 10-year-old sister Tia.
A few last-minute logistics are now being sorted but, all being well, Eden and Lee will be flying to New York this Saturday, December 3. The treatment must start within 40 days of the all-clear scans and 25 days have now passed so the pressure is on to get over there.
Eden will need three vaccinations over the next 28 days which means they will be in New York over Christmas with Jen and Tia flying out to join them as soon as the school holidays begin.
The treatment was due to be five years but Lee revealed it has now come down to three with Eden needing to make four trips in the first year, two in the second and one in the third. Once the first trip is done the others will be between five and seven days.
The treatment will cost around £230,000 but the massive fundraising effort has brought in £502,000 with the money also needed for flights and accommodation over the coming years. There will be more fundraisers next year.
Members of the Northern Fitness Gym in Linthwaite set themselves a target to raise £50,000 and have actually reached £70,000. Read more HERE.
Lee said: “The way people have rallied round to help us is unbelievable. I kind of ran out of the words to say thank you after a couple of months as people’s generosity and the hard work by fundraisers has left us lost for words to express our immense gratitude.”
Now Eden has had the all-clear the chances of the cancer not coming back has risen to 80% and the New York treatment will increase those chances even further.
Lee said: “In and among all Eden’s treatment in the UK were numerous MRI scans along with heart, kidney and lung tests. There was also sickness, hair loss and hundreds of tablets to take. Our little girl has come through it all with a smile and determination.
“But we know we are not out of the woods yet and the next five years will be filled with anxiety and panic every time Eden gets ill, has a sniffle or a cough.”
Jen added: “The last year and a half have been the most frightening of our lives. The worst is hopefully behind us but, as I learn more each day, we still have a very long and uncertain battle ahead.
“What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were nervously waiting scan and test results to see if Eden was finally ready for surgery after almost eight months of two different types of chemotherapy.
“They were tough times and it was very difficult for us all but results were good and we made it to surgery in December.
“This Christmas will look even more different but at least we are continuing to move in the right direction. Our girls have been amazing – both of them – and I could not be more grateful that I have my rock, my strength, my Lee to help me through this all. Family is everything.”
* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.