Parents of brave girl, 5, tell of their devastation as her cancer returns

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Summer Allen Summer Allen

The mother of a five-year-old girl with an aggressive form of childhood cancer has spoken of her family’s devastation and desperation after her daughter relapsed.

Summer Allen had a year away from the gruelling therapy for Neuroblastoma as her condition settled, but it is now back in several places, including her head which means life-saving treatment might not be available in the UK.

The family is trying to raise £500,000 for possible medical help abroad. They have stepped up efforts following Summer’s relapse and are appealing for well-wishers to help their little girl.

Mum Sarah said the family’s world “crashed in on them” when they discovered the Neuroblastoma had returned.

“It has been very hard, Summer’s cancer was stable, but for it to show its ugly face again hit us very hard. We really wished it was going to stay stable for longer,” she said.

Summer has had five days of radiotherapy at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and her parents are now waiting for scan results to see how the treatment is working, but said the lump has shrunk.

“She is so very brave, she did so well at radiotherapy, all the nurses were so very impressed,” Sarah, 28, said.

“The problem is, we now understand the limitations faced by the NHS in treating this cancer here in the UK. Although Summer is currently getting through, about 80 per cent of children with High Risk Neuroblastoma will relapse soon after the treatment ends, at which point we would have to face the heart-breaking fact that there is nothing else we can do for her.

“However, we have learned of other treatments available around the world that will give summer the lifeline she now so desperately needs.”

Summer, a “girly girl” who loves pink, purple, princesses and animals, first started showing symptoms in November, 2011. She was complaining of leg pains and tests showed fluid on her hip, which was removed in an operation.

But the following month Sarah, and Summer’s dad Dave Allen, discovered a large lump on the top of Summer’s head and two smaller lumps on her forehead.

“We were sent to the hospital in Halifax where they did more tests and finally we were given the worst news imaginable, Summer had a tumour. We were transferred to Leeds General Infirmary where further tests revealed the true extent of Summer’s cancer.

“Our little girl was facing the most aggressive type of cancer Neuroblastoma, and she was already in the final stages, stage four, high risk with a very poor prognosis. Our world went very dark,” said Sarah, of Malham Road, Brighouse.

Summer endured months of frontline treatment including chemotherapy and an operation to remove the tumour at LGI. She almost lost her life three times before the cancer became more stable.

“As parents we have never felt relief like it. However, in January our world crashed in on us when we found another lump on Summer’s head,” said Sarah, who grew up in Bradford and has much support from family still in the city.

“The overseas treatment can cost upwards of £500,000 and we need your help to get there. She’s such a happy-go-lucky little girl, and so brave, she is our star and we simply cannot lose her to this terrible disease.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  • The family is being supported by the Families Against Neuroblastoma charity, which is backing the appeal which currently stands at just over £17,000.
  • To help with the fundraising, visit justgiving.com/summer-allen-appeal, text SUMM95 and your amount, between £1 and £10, to 70070 or contact the family via the Summer Allen Facebook page.

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