Family hope public appeal will help daughter beat cancer

A new treatment could give 18-month-old Alice Turner a chance to overcome neuroblastoma

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 09:05

The family of a child who is suffering from the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma is seeking to raise funds for her to receive treatment in the United States.

Alice Turner, who is one and a half, was diagnosed with the condition at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda in December 2013. Alice, from Drogheda, started 18 months of intensive treatment in early January this year.

The treatment includes eight rounds of rapid induction chemotherapy every ten days, followed by high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy, differentiation treatment and immunotherapy.

Her parents Lyndsey and Paul Turner are now hoping to enrol their daughter on a trial in the United States after she finishes her treatment in Ireland.

The trial takes place at the Helen de Vos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is a collaboration with 18 universities and children’s hospitals across America. The trial uses a drug called DFMO.

It has a 100 per cent success rate in preventing relapse of patients who are in remission from high risk neuroblastoma.

However, it will cost between €150,000 to €200,000 and that does not include the expenses incurred in having to relocate to the United States.

The family have now set up the charity, A Chance for Alice, to raise funds. “It is a very serious amount of money. Ultimately we may need more,” said the fundchairman Cormac Bohan who is Alice’s uncle. “We have to get on that programmme and there are the costs of staying over there.”

Approximately 10 children in Ireland are diagnosed every year with neuroblastoma which affects the nervous system. High-risk neuroblastoma is even harder to cure and is more likely to become resistant to standard therapies or to come back after seemingly initial successful treatment.

It is estimated that Alice’s cancer has a 70 per cent chance of coming back unless properly treated.

Mr Bohan said he is making contact with the families of other children with a view to fundraising for all of them to receive treatment in the United States.

Another child, Merryn Lacy, from Donabate, Co Dublin, met with the Irish rugby team in Dublin last week.

He believes that the public respond better to individual cases, but that acting collectively could help children access corporate or philanthropic funding.

Following a very successful fundraising campaign including the No.1 single ‘Tiny Dancer - A Song for Lily Mae’, Galway child Lily Mae Morrison has been enrolled in the programme. Her family have raised €400,000 for her treatment.

See www.idonate.ie/achanceforalice.