A Cambridgeshire aunt is rallying support from across the county to pay for her niece’s £300,000 cancer treatment after she was diagnosed with an ‘incredibly rare and aggressive’ childhood cancer earlier this year.
Four-year-old Evelyn, who lives in Bangkok with her parents Augusta and Charlie, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, “one of the rarest and most aggressive forms of childhood cancer” on April 17 this year.
The family’s life was turned upside down by the ‘horrific’ diagnosis, meaning Evelyn now has to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy.
Because her disease is at such an advanced stage, the battle she faces will be “longer, harder, and her chance of beating the disease significantly smaller.”
Evelyn’s aunt Charlotte Verdeyen, who lives in Brampton, Cambridgeshire, said she felt “helpless” when she learned of the diagnosis.
She said: “Until I read about the diagnosis and treatment and what needs to be done, I don’t think I really realized how awful it was or how bad it was.
“There’s a one-in-three chance she’ll survive, and that’s just beyond heartbreaking.”
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Evelyn’s parents started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to pay for the expensive treatment, which has amassed a massive £133,734 in donations at the time of writing.
Charlotte said: “This has really resonated with people as she is a little girl who was completely fine until three days before the diagnosis.
“And even then she might not survive. The problem with neuroblastoma is that once you’ve had it and go through these horrible treatments that cost a fortune, it’s very likely to relapse, and if it relapses, they can’t do the treatments again. That’s about it, as awful as it is.”
But despite the huge wave of donations, the fundraiser is still a long way from the £300,000 goal.
Along with the initial chemotherapy, the expensive and extensive treatment includes surgery, bone marrow transplants, high-dose chemotherapy, and newly developed vaccines to lower the relapse rate, which is currently at 60 percent.
Charlotte said: ‘They can move here and get one of these treatments on the NHS, but mentally Evelyn isn’t strong enough now.
“They had to start treatment so quickly because the cancer was too big to remove, which was the first thing they had to do.
“They were due to start chemo in a few weeks, so she’s too weak to come back now.”
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So, to raise the remaining funds for Evelyn’s treatment, Charlotte decided to step in and organize a local initiative here in Cambridgeshire.
She said: “I just felt I had to do something. Luckily all my friends felt exactly the same.”
In an effort to raise the funds, she decided to bring companies from across the county together to support a fundraiser to pay for Evelyn’s treatment.
She has organized a raffle with 21 prizes donated by local businesses, friends and community members from across Cambridgeshire.
Prizes include a full body massage with Roseshed Beauty, a £100 gift certificate from Little Aqua Swim School, a month of Pilates classes at Hanson Wellness and even an autographed portrait of Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker.
Charlotte said: “One in three children don’t survive this and almost everyone I’ve spoken to has never heard of it because it’s so rare.
“Apparently no money is going to this place either, so if this money is raised and Evelyn sadly dies, then all this money will go to research for the future in this country. That’s where every cent goes.
“This is all money to help a little girl. We’re actually trying to save her life.”
Tickets for the raffle cost € 5 and are available here.
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