The parents of a three-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare cancer have issued a heartfelt plea for help fundraising to pay for specialist treatment, so she can fulfil her dream of being an artist.
Mollie McCaughan was a healthy girl looking forward to preschool when she suddenly began to feel pain in her leg – which doctors said was ‘just an infection’.
In July 2020 she continued to feel pain but doctors reassured parents Kevin, 39, and Sian McCaughan, 41, that she was fine and prescribed her antibiotics.
But later tests revealed she had Stage M Neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that affects mostly babies, and was given just 40 per cent chance of survival.
A CT scan showed a 6.5cm tumour located on top of her left kidney, around her adrenal glands, renal arteries and spine.
Additional tests confirmed the cancer had spread to her skull and bone marrow.
Neuroblastoma affects around 100 children each year in the UK and is most common in children under the age of five, but the cause is still unknown.
The brave girl went through eight rounds of intense chemotherapy every 10 days for 80 days, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and an eight-hour life-saving operation before her third birthday.
The cancer has now gone but it has a high chance of a recurrence and the family are hoping to get treatment from the U.S. which would allow her to follow her dreams of being an artist.
Dad Kevin, from Beckenham, said: “You can’t put a value on tomorrow.
“The opportunity for her to be able to go to school, for her to be able to have a life.
“She told us two days ago that she wanted to be an artist when she was older.
“If we can get this treatment in America she has an opportunity to experience life and to dream and have desires and ambitions.
“She’s just such a laughy little person. You couldn’t imagine someone like her not having those chances.
“She’s just incredible. She’s just a bundle of positivity. All she seems to do is smile and laugh and giggle.
“I want to see the person she will become. She’s going to be so special.”
The family said they’ve been put through a rollercoaster year which they never would have expected as she showed no signs of cancer.
Kevin, who works as a business transformation consultant, said he was left devastated with all of the consent forms he had to sign as it felt like he was accepting she may not make it.
He said: “We never expected cancer. It’s not something we remotely considered.
“Kids get bumps and bruises, they get coughs, they get infections but you never think it’s going to be anything worse.
“There were no signs. As parents you can’t help but think about what you could have done, why didn’t we see it.
“You carry this guilt. It lives with you. You feel like you’ve not taken care of your child.
“Some of the consent forms you have to sign, you have to accept that there are chances things will go wrong.”
The family-of-five found out Mollie had cancer through an email which told them she was being admitted to the Royal Marsden, a specialist cancer treatment hospital in London.
On Dec 1 she had a major eight-hour surgery and removed one of her ovaries – which means she likely will not be able to have her own children.
But thankfully all of the tumours was removed successfully.
The family are now hoping to range £200,000 to help pay for further treatment and so they can arrange for a bivalent vaccine at the Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York.
The vaccine will mean Mollie can live out her days with her parents and siblings Leo, five and 18-month-old Ben.
Dad-of-three Kevin said: “This has given us a renewed sense of purpose. Up until that point we were preparing for the worst but now we’re planning for something better.”
You can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpmolliemc