THE mother of Wigan schoolgirl Emma Hoolin, who successfully battled serious illness, has given a cautious welcome to news that Coronation Street is to feature a plotline on the same subject.
It was revealed this week that character Fiz Brown’s five-year-old daughter Hope is to be diagnosed with neuroblastoma - an aggressive form of tumour in children that can often prove fatal.
Sources have told the Daily Mirror that producers of the top show are going to great lengths to understand the condition and the traumatic impact it has both on patients and their families.
It is a storyline that is sure to have strong resonances with that of young Emma.
The Whitley youngster captured the hearts of the borough when an emergency campaign was launched to raise £200,000 to get her to America for pioneering immunotherapy within 100 days after conventional treatments failed.
A magnificent public response meant that the target was reached with weeks to spare and, after undergoing the gruelling treatment in Philadelphia, her life was saved.
My instant reaction is that anything that raises the profile of neuroblastoma has to be a good thing because there are still a lot of people out there who don’t know anything about itJill Hoolin
The Woodfield Primary School pupil, who turned eight in April, has now been in remission for more than three years and the longer she goes without a relapse, doctors say, the lesser the chance of its coming back. Tragically many other children are not so lucky.
Hope’s neuroblastoma looks to be one of the toughest subject matters ever dealt with by any soap and Emma’s mum Jill today said she hoped that it would be handled properly.
She said: “My instant reaction is that anything that raises the profile of neuroblastoma has to be a good thing because there are still a lot of people out there who don’t know anything about it.
“That’s probably not the case so much in Wigan now after what happened to Emma but we didn’t know anything about it before she was ill. And the higher the profile the more money can be raised for those researching treatment and a cure.
“And I hear that it will be sensitively handled - how could they do it any other way?
“But I think the real test will be for a soap opera to be able to bear with it in real time. The medical alerts, the constant and long stays in hospital, to to-ing and fro-ing to doctors, the long and uncomfortable treatments, the infections, the setbacks and all the worry and fatigue.
“I am in two minds at the moment as to whether I will watch this though.”
Meanwhile, Emma continues to impress doctors after her US treatment. She only now needs to go for an ultrasound check-up every six months and if she reaches the five-year milestone since therapy without alarm the tests will be carried out only yearly.
Corrie producers are said to have consulted closely with the Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Alliance, which was of great help to the Hoolins.