Fenland family want to raise awareness of childhood brain tumours as seven-year-old daughter battles the cancer
A family has spoken out to raise awareness of childhood brain tumours after their young daughter was misdiagnosed with anxiety for 18 months.
Seven-year-old Isla McNulty’s parents Laura and Ian want others to be aware of the type of cancer she is currently battling after doctors refused to acknowledge her bouts of sickness were down to anything more than anxiety.
Isla, a member of Doddington Brownies, has just completed six weeks of radiotherapy, which has seen her lovely dark locks fall-out, and is facing a gruelling 38 weeks of chemotherapy after finally being diagnosed with medulloblastoma - the most common form of childhood brain cancer.
Isla has a grade iv tumour - and has been told there is a 70 per cent success rate for her treatment.
Laura said: “Isla started throwing up randomly. It would happen anywhere and at any time. There was no reason for it. We went to the doctors and initially they thought she had acid reflux, which was causing the sickness. But tests ruled that out.
“Then she was diagnosed with anxiety and it was her being anxious that was making her sick. But she is the most laid back little girl, nothing fazes her. She is really happy all the time and just loves life.
“I knew it was not anxiety and just kept pushing and pushing to get to the bottom of what was causing the sickness bouts. It was after she was sick while happily playing at a birthday party, that she was finally sent for an MRI scan.
“A few days later I was asked to take her back for another scan. I asked if there was something we should be worried about and they said no. But when I asked again on the day of the scan they said they wanted to check what they were dealing with and only then did they deliver the bombshell that Isla had a brain tumour the size of a golf ball at the base of skull.
“It was a terrible shock. After 18 months of backwards and forwards to the doctors and to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, we finally had a diagnosis. It has been really hard to watch her go through the treatment, but she has been absolutely amazing. She has had to wear a mask whilst undergoing the radiotherapy and she has only ever cried once.
“We have promised her whatever she wants once the treatment is over - so we will be looking for a pony and booking a holiday so she can swim with dolphins.
“She loves animals of all kinds and we already have a lot of pets, but she really wants a pony, so we are determined to make that happen for her once she is well again.
“We know the Brownies have been doing fundraising for Isla and Lena Rowlands is running a draw to raise money to help with travel costs for us having to go backwards and forwards to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge while Isla has treatment.
“But we would really like any money raised to go towards making Isla’s dreams come true.
“Obviously we may not be able to do the holiday this year, but hopefully we will be able to go some where so she can swim with dolphins next year.”
Laura, who together with Ian, has three other children: Louie, 15, Enya, five and one-year-old Reggie, said: “I feel so guilty that it took 18 months to get a proper diagnosis. In all that time it never crossed my mind that it might be a brain tumour, and the doctors didn’t consider it for a long time either.
“I knew there was something seriously wrong, it was a mother’s instinct and I would urge other parents who have a sick child to follow their instincts and push for doctors to consider every option, and not to have their concerns dismissed. The type of tumour Isla has is very common.
“The radiotherapy has killed the tumour, now the chemotherapy is necessary to make sure every last bit of cancer has gone out of her body. It is going to be a long 38 weeks, but we are focussing on making Isla’s dreams come true and encouraging her to focus on getting a pony.”
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