Fresh hope for brave Shona

By John HowardTHE parents of a nine-year-old girl who is fighting a rare form of cancer have spoken of their joy that her tumour is starting to react to treatment.

By John Howard

THE parents of a nine-year-old girl who is fighting a rare form of cancer have spoken of their joy that her tumour is starting to react to treatment.

But despite the development, the brave youngster will still need a major life-saving operation within the next two months.

Pete and Tracy Gill, from Ipswich, were devastated when their daughter, Shona, was diagnosed with a tumour for the second time.

Last March the youngster was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that was found in her pelvic area.

She had a tumour the size of a rugby ball, but after major operations resulting in many months in hospital, Shona had a scan in January showing she was clear of the disease and could continue a normal life.

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But during March there were signs of swelling and bruising on Shona's right leg and tests showed the tumour had returned.

She was taken back to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge for a further course of chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumour with a view to a further operation to remove it and the surrounding area, including possibly her bladder and part of her bowel.

Her family are currently fundraising to possibly send Shona to the U.S., where her parents hope surgery might be less drastic, removing less of the area around the tumour.

However, the family have now had their first piece of good news for a long time with the announcement their daughter's tumour was starting to react to the chemotherapy treatment and has shrunk slightly.

More chemotherapy treatment will now start today at Addenbrooke's Hospital and doctors believe they may be able to operate in a less drastic fashion, allowing Shona to be treated in the UK.

Mr Gill, a 43-year-old police constable based in Sudbury, said: "This is the first bit of good news for quite a while.

"There has been a slight shrinkage, enough for them to continue chemotherapy in this country.

"But the tumour will not just disintegrate, it will have to be operated on and removed, the sooner the better."

The family hope to pass funds raised so far for a possible operation in the U.S., about £15,000, to research in to the condition that Shona suffers from.

They also wanted to thank everyone who has been rallying round to raise funds since March.

Mrs Gill, 38, a primary school teaching assistant, said: "People have been really touched by Shona's plight, lots of things are going on and I am so encouraged by people, everyone has been so good."

Anyone wanting to contribute to Shona's Smile Appeal, account 30337218, sort code 20/44/51, can do so at Barclays Bank, Princes Street, Ipswich.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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