VIDEO: Young family tell of '˜the day our lives changed forever'
The parents of a six-year-old girl who has bravely fought against childhood cancer are sharing their story in the hope of raising awareness.
Little Zara Lundy, from Normanton, can be seen in the video happily singing and dancing along to music.
It’s hard to believe that it was filmed whilst she was undergoing intensive chemotherapy, within her first few months of being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
Aggressive chemo kills a lot of things, but it didn’t kill Zara’s vivacious spirit.
Zara had been unwell for about four to six weeks prior to diagnosis. She’d had continuous colds and fevers and had started to rapidly lose weight.
Mum Chelle said: “We had taken her to the doctors five times and she’d seen four different doctors. Each of them diagnosed her with an upper respiratory infection. They all missed the symptoms.
“On the night before the diagnosis, Zara was unwell and we were waiting for an emergency doctor to visit us at home - they never came.
“That night I googled the symptoms and was taken to the Be Child Cancer Aware Website.
“I saw some of the symptoms and then immediately suspected that Zara had leukaemia. I took her straight to the doctors for blood tests and from there our journey began.
Describing their experiences, Chelle said it’s obviously been very difficult.
“Zara initially stayed in hospital for about three months where she was regularly blasted with high dose chemotherapy which made her very unwell and made her hair fall out.
“Chemotherapy destroys the immune system which leaves Zara vulnerable to infections. As a result, Zara has had a number of hospital stays and has fought off pneumonia, sepsis, and recently, shingles.”
Now, Chelle and husband Jonny, are passionate about raising awareness - especially as September marks childhood cancer awareness month.
Childhood cancer and adult cancers are not the same and is the number one disease-related killer of children under the age of 15 and worldwide. Every three minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer.
And those children are stuck using drugs that were researched and developed for adults.
Only two new drugs have been developed for children’s cancer in the last 30 years.
If a child survives treatment, then they are likely to suffer from severe life debilitating problems because of the treatment.
“The idea behind September Childhood Cancer Awareness month is simple – Awareness = Increased Funding = Research = Kinder and safer treatments and hopefully a cure.”
It’s also important to make as many people aware of the symptoms of childhood cancer – if it wasn’t for the Be Child Cancer Awareness website, I dread to think what the outcome could have been.
Zara is now in remission with treatment due to finish in April next year.
Chelle said: “Zara is doing really well everything is going in the right direction. Leukaemia treatment is two years for girls and three years for boys. Although Zara is in remission, she has maintenance chemotherapy every single day and also has two visit hospital at least three times a month for blood test’s and for chemotherapy through her central line (portacath).”
To support childhood cancer awareness and for more info, go to: www.bechildcanceraware.org
For more information on Candlelighters, a childhood cancer charity supporting families in Yorkshire, go to: www.candlelighters.org.uk