Funds pour in for Niamh
NIAMH, pictured above with her parents Julie and Paul, is Florida-bound today
Supporters of cancer girl's family smash fundraising campaign's £17,000 target
CANCER-stricken schoolgirl Niamh Yates and her family travel to Florida today (Friday) for a course of cutting edge treatment - supported by donations of more than £21,000 from generous well-wishers.
Julie and Paul Yates, from Tranent, have been overwhelmed by the contributions made to their campaign to raise £17,000 to assist their family while Niamh, 12, undergoes a nine-week course of Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) in Jacksonville.
Niamh, a Ross High School pupil, was diagnosed with an undifferentiated sarcoma - a very rare form of cancerous tumour - on the base of her spine in January and has been undergoing various treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy, since then.
Having waited anxiously for a commencement date for Niamh's PBT course since the youngster was granted NHS funding for the revolutionary treatment in late June, the Yates received word last Friday that their first consultation at the Proton Therapy Institute in the US takes place on Monday.
PBT costs approximately £120,500 and is not yet available in the UK.
Compared to conventional radiotherapy, PBT targets tumour cells more precisely using a particle beam, allowing higher doses of radiation while reducing the side-effects to surrounding healthy tissue.
Julie, who has written a blog about the family's experiences at
www.allaboutniamh.co.uk, said: "Niamh is excited but nervous about the treatment. It's a fear of the unknown as this will be a totally new experience for her.
"I plan on taking pictures of the PBT and what is involved and documenting it on the blog, as I think it's important to raise awareness of just how effective the treatment is compared to what is available in the UK.
"None of us have ever been to Florida. We hope to arrange for Niamh to swim with dolphins once her treatment is complete, and spend a couple of days in Disneyland and New York as well."
At the moment, the fundraising total to assist the family, including Niamh's six-year-old brother Conor, with the expense of living in America for two months sits at about £21,500. Paul and Julie intend to use any funds left over following their trip to start a new charity, dedicated to assisting families dealing with childhood cancer.
"We've had a number of big donations from fundraising events held by our supporters and they will continue while we are in Florida," said Julie.
"The generosity we've experienced has been incredible and we hope that by setting up a charity we'll be able to share that kindness with others in the same situation as us when we return."
To make a donation, visit http://www.gofundme.com/allaboutniamh
This article appeared in East Lothian Courier 12 Jul 12