£200k fundraiser launched for Telford five-year-old diagnosed with aggressive cancer

The family of a five-year-old girl diagnosed with cancer have launched a £200,000 fundraising appeal.

Dulcie with her mum Debbie O’Kelly
Dulcie with her mum Debbie O’Kelly

Dulcie O’Kelly, from Lawley in Telford, was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma in December.

Her family have now started a gofundme page to help pay for what could be potentially lifesaving treatment in the USA.

Dulcie’s mum Debbie said: “Our entire world has been turned upside down following the diagnosis, which came completely out of nowhere. The doctors have not given us a survival percentage figure and at the moment are saying that everything is treatable.

“The plan we are on will run for 12 to 18 months but realistically can take up to two years for her to be ‘in remission’ or ‘cancer-free’. But there is the potential that she will never be cancer-free because of the type of cancer it is. Neuroblastoma is the second most aggressive cancer in children."

Debbie said she also wants other parents to be aware of the signs, after delays in identifying the cause of Dulcie's sickness.

Dulcie with her parents

She said: “Unfortunately, Dulcie’s diagnosis was missed for just over a year. I was told that her swollen tummy was a condition known as impacted faecal matter and it was only after I pushed for more tests that a mass measuring 17cms by 12cms was finally identified as neuroblastoma. This is important so other families can know the important signs and symptoms.

“It was not a minor lump and we were never sent for a scan. A simple scan would have shown what was going on in her tummy and we could have potentially got this before it spread to other parts of her body – it has spread to her spine, pelvis, bone marrow and legs.

“It’s important to create more awareness about this condition as there may be other families out there in the same situation and are completely unaware that there may be something serious developing."

Debbie said Dulcie’s treatment plan is called 'Rapid COJEC' and she is currently undergoing her induction chemotherapy which lasts around 70 days.

She said: “She is enduring three days of treatment every 10 days and has just completed round four. This is an aggressive plan but it needs to be to stop the tumour from growing and spreading any further.

“We just hope and pray we have caught it in time.”

Dulcie and her mum Debbie

Debbie added: “We are then looking at surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible and harvest some stem cells to go back into Dulcie’s body at a later date. We then move on to high-dose chemotherapy as an in-patient at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for up to eight weeks, followed by radiotherapy and immunotherapy. We have to be so careful to avoid any risk of infection while all this is going on.

“Hopefully, after that, the treatments will have done what they need to, but if we get to that point, 12 to 18 months down the line, and things aren’t looking great, we will then need to take Dulcie to America. The problem is that Dulcie would need to have her first vaccine in America within 60 to 80 days of ending her treatment in the UK.

“This is why we have started our fundraising efforts now, we can’t leave it until the last minute and risk not raising enough funds. We would need to raise about £200,000 but that may rise to £250,000. There are two trials ongoing in America at present and there are some success stories being reported.

“We have already raised £6,000 which is great considering we haven’t been doing it for that long and are really grateful to all those people who have supported us so far. We hope the American treatment won’t be necessary but we must be prepared and able to pay for it if it’s needed.”

Dulcie attends Lawley Primary School where children from her class have organised a cake sale and parents, and friends across the Lawley community have pulled together to help raise funds.

Carol McQuiggin, headteacher of Lawley Primary School, said the school was doing everything they could to support the family.

She said the children and staff were missing Dulcie very much and added that the school hopes to raise funds for her treatment fund.

People can donate to the appeal at gofundmepage at gofundme.com/f/dulciesneuroblastomajourney

People can also follow Dulcie’s journey on Instagram @dulcies_neuroblastoma_journey

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