A brave young Wigan girl will fly to the USA for proton beam therapy after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.
Four-year-old Molly Fleming, from Beech Hill, will spend about nine weeks Stateside having the treatment for ependymoma.
Her family spoke of their nightmare six-week ordeal which started with Molly suffering headaches and sickness before she was rushed to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after a scan revealed a tumour.
This was removed but a biopsy quickly revealed she had brain cancer and the only option was a flight to either Jacksonville in Florida or Oklahoma for proton beam therapy.
Her parents Paul Fleming and Claire Grundy are now raising around £5,000 to pay the costs associated with living Stateside for more than two months while Molly has the treatment and to keep the family, made up of Molly’s siblings Harley, five, three-year-old Thomas and 13-week-old Jacob together as much as possible.
Dad Paul, 35, said: “Molly’s therapy is paid for by the NHS as are the flights for her,myself and Claire but it’s the living costs. We also don’t really want to leave the boys with anyone while we’re there.
“Obviously it’s been a difficult time and when we first got the diagnosis we were devastated. I had a few days where I was a bit of a mess but we’ve got to keep going for Molly and we are OK at the moment.
“We’re focusing on all the good stories and reviews we’ve heard about the treatment, we’re not even contemplating the worst.
“Molly has done really well, she’s very brave. She’s been quite sick and it has affected her speech a bit but she still tells her brothers off and sends me out on errands to get McDonald’s and Pringles for her. We’re very proud of her.”
Molly, from Beech Hill Avenue, first went to the GP about seven weeks ago with severe headaches and when the strong painkillers she was prescribed failed to improve her situation she was taken to Wigan Infirmary.
A week after being discharged from A&E Paul and Claire took her back as she was complaining her eyesight was becoming foggy and she was suffering lethargy in school and had started being sick.
Her parents pushed doctors to give her an MRI scan, which came back showing a tumour which had to be removed.
She was immediately rushed to Manchester and the family was found a place in Ronald McDonald House so they could remain by her side.
However, Paul and Claire’s reprieve was short lived as around six days later the biopsy came back showing Molly’s battle was far from over.
Paul said: “When she started being sick that was a red flag to us. Claire had started researching brain tumours on the internet.
“We started really pushing for the scan and she was sick again just as we were about to go home, so luckily she stayed in overnight. We got the scan the following morning and we were rushed straight to Manchester by ambulance. We’ve been there ever since.
“They removed all the tumour but the biopsy came back with bad news. We were expecting it and that helped us to cope.
“The rare and aggressive brain cancer is why she needs the proton beam therapy, because it’s more accurate than anything we’ve got over here.
“She’s come along quite well since on the anti-sickness drugs and she now spends most of the day with us at Ronald McDonald House. We’re hoping she might be home this week.”
The Beech Hill community has rallied round to help the Flemings reach their £5,000 total on hearing of Molly’s cancer battle. The community-owned Wellfield Hotel pub is arranging an all-day fund-raiser for her this Sunday, with children’s activities in the afternoon and an evening of entertainment.
Wigan West ward representative Coun Phyll Cullen is urging everyone to get behind the family.
She said: “The word cancer still really hits home and even more so when it’s a young child.
“A little girl having to go through that is dreadful and I think it’s also terrible they have to travel such a long distance to get the treatment.
“I’m pulling all the stops out for Molly and I hope people can dig right to the bottom of their pockets for her family.”
Paul says the support from people in the local area has been incredible, with more than £3,500 donated to the campaign in less than a week.
He said: “We’ve been overwhelmed. There is a Facebook group set up and lots of fund-raising ideas going backwards and forwards.
“The pubs have been brilliant and some of the school mums are trying to organise something for us. We’re really grateful for all the help and donations and we’re a bit lost for words.”
The fun day takes place from noon this Sunday, April 9.
To find out more or donate, visit www.gofundme.com/molly-flemings-treatment