A girl with childhood cancer has turned to social media to try and raise £200,000 to pay for life-saving treatment in America, as she has run out of options at home.
Isabella Lyttle, 10, from Walsall, near Birmingham, was first diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer that affects 100 people in the UK every year, when she was just three-years-old.
After seven years of treatment on the NHS, Isabella still has the condition, so she and her godmother Louise Chorley have taken matters into their own hands and produced a video to raise awareness and the much-needed funds.
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of specialised nerve cells, called neural crest cells. These cells are involved in the development of the nervous system and other tissues, and can occur anywhere in the body, but most commonly occur in the adrenal glands of the abdomen.
Isabella’s parents Mark and Jennie Lyttle, had not heard of neuroblastoma before their daughter’s diagnosis in 2010.
“It was like a knife to the stomach when we first found out,” they said. “Nothing can ever prepare you for that.”
After the initial diagnosis, Isabella spent the next two years undergoing chemotherapy, surgery to her stomach to remove the tumour, a stem cell implant, courses of immunotherapy and radiotherapy, before she was finally given the all clear.
But remission wasn’t to last, and during a routine MRI scan in 2015, it was discovered that the neuroblastoma had returned to her left leg.
High-risk neuroblastoma is known to have a high rate of relapse, and the survival rate for relapsed neuroblastoma is less than 10%. This statistic worsens with every relapse.
Since then Isabella has relapsed on three separate occasions, each time the cancer grows in severity. The most recent time was in March 2017.
Unfortunately relapsed neuroblastoma is particularly challenging to treat and there are limited options - all of which exist in the form of clinical trials, in the UK and overseas, such as the one the Lyttle family want to have in the USA.
But accessing a clinical trial overseas is not NHS funded, so the family were left with the unenviable task of working out how to raise the money.
This was when Isabella’s godmother, Louise Chorley, reached out to an online ideas community called ‘One Minute Briefs’ for some inspiration, and they were the ones who suggested the film.
Harnessing their daughter’s positive outlook, the family hope the film will convince people to help their cause: “No matter how hard it is to hear the words ‘your child has cancer’ the only way to get through it is a positive outlook.
“This is generated by Isabella alone. She is ours and everyone’s inspiration.”
A donation line has been set up to encourage people by texting ISLY88 to 70070 with the amount of your donation, which can be anything between one to ten pounds. There is also a Just Giving page where you can help.