It's been just over a year since my little girl, Millie, was first diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, aged three. Our lives have been a rollercoaster ride since but so much has happened in the past few months - from Singing Nurses to countless stays in hospital, rounds of treatment and operations. Millie has continued to fight throughout and we are finally seeing real progress. As of the 22nd February, Millie has been in remission! She was able to come home for Christmas and we even celebrated her fourth birthday together at home where she was completely spoilt.
Unfortunately, the type of cancer Millie suffers from has a high rate of relapse in children, with up to 80 per cent given the all clear seeing the disease return within two years and doctors describing survival rates after relapse as "poor". The preventative treatment which could hugely decrease the chances of the disease returning isn't available on the NHS. To make matters worse, Millie is only eligible for this treatment 120 days after her treatment ends here in the UK. With Millie's immunotherapy finally coming to an end today, this means we need to raise £30,000 in 120 days to get her to America to receive this potentially-saving drug. We are now in a race against time to raise the money on our JustGiving crowdfunding page so that we can pay for Millie to get the treatment in the US.
This past year she has gone through numerous and painful tests, infections and the final stage of treatment - immunotherapy, something no child should ever have to undergo.
During this time we've continued to let Millie take charge of her own journey, sometimes we'd question whether we should be wrapping her in cotton wool or allowing her to, when possible, enjoy the things other kids do. Millie, of course, has always chosen the latter. And so, we have been allowing her to go to nursery, friend's birthday parties and family outings and taking precautions where and when we can.
I recall one time when Millie was upset because she couldn't 'go outside and play'. Outside being the hospital ward corridors which she loves to run up and down. She was starting her antibody infusion and had to stay in bed. Despite enduring more pain than most adults will in the entirety of their lives, it is a daunting reminder that Millie is still just a three year old girl. The hospital is her playground. The nurses have never allowed her to lose her childhood wonder and imagination and for that I am grateful. From arranging for 'clown doctors' to singing with Millie, to allowing her to run through the hospital corridors at top speed and swing from her drip stand with her best-friend, Kian. It has been the small things and the kindness which have made this time in our lives not so unbearable.
The Millie's journey community has supported us tirelessly at every step of the way. To name just a few, her auntie Kelsey and uncle Stewart did a 96 mile trek for Millie; and Lee Welsh, an 11 year old cancer survivor, has been incredible. He has held auctions, completed the mini mudder and created videos to encourage people to donate to get Millie to America for further treatment. As for our online community, they have continued to share and support our JustGiving crowdfunding page. On Neuroblastoma Awareness Day, we asked the Millie's Journey Community to change their Facebook profile pictures to purple to spread awareness of Neuroblastoma. In February we held a 'Millie's dinner and dance' event, which unfortunately Millie couldn't make due to falling ill with an infection, but the turnout and money raised remained to be absolutely incredible.
Together, we have managed to raise £110,000, leaving us just £30,000 short of our target amount to get Millie to America so that she can say goodbye to cancer once and for all. Millie has defied the odds time and time again, enduring 80 days of rapid cojec chemotherapy, 14 radiotherapy sessions, 5 cycles of immunotherapy and major surgery for tumour resection - and still keeps smiling. Our only wish is to be able to watch our little girl grow up.
To donate to Millie's JustGiving crowdfunding page: href="https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kelsey-gibb-4"