LITTLE Scarlett McCracken is only 10 years old but she has endured a lifetime of heartache already.
The youngster was diagnosed with a brain tumour just over four years ago and had to undergo a lifesaving operation.
Her family hoped and prayed the successful operation would be an end to her traumatic childhood.
But active cells left from the operation have been pushing on Scarlett’s optic nerve and causing her to lose her sight.
Her eyesight has deteriorated so acutely she must now travel to America for Proton Beam Therapy to stop her going blind.
The NHS has funded the £90,000 operation and travel to America but the family need to raise funds to ensure that Scarlett, a pupil at Willows Catholic Primary School, Kirkham, and her mother can afford to stay out there.
Mum, Kerry, 33, of Wilbanke Avenue, Kirkham, is desperate to ensure that she and Scarlett can go to America for treatment.
Kerry said: “We are such a close-knit family and, like any other parents, your children are your world and it’s heartbreaking when you cannot do anything for them.
“As a parent, you just want your child to have a normal life and Scarlett can’t have that.”
The deterioration in Scarlett’s eyesight started when she was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2010.
Kerry said: “The school had just broken up for Christmas and Scarlett had a fit one night after going to bed.”
A CT scan eventually discovered the brain tumour and doctors at Blackpool Victoria arranged for a life saving operation to be carried out at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool in January 2011.
After returning from the operation that removed 95 per cent of the tumour, Kerry hoped that things would go back to normal.
However, an eye test carried out after the operation found that Scarlett had become partially sighted.
The mother-of-two said: “At the time I was not concerned with the consequences of the eyesight as I was just so thankful and happy to have her with us. Since then life has plodded on for a few years and Scarlett has accommodated everything life has thrown at her.”
It was only until earlier this month at another eye test that it was confirmed Scarlett’s eyesight had deteriorated significantly.
But after an anxious 10 days of waiting for MRI scan results, tests showed that the tumour had not grown back.
After being examined at Alder Hey, the NHS agreed to fund the operation known as Proton Beam Therapy which is only available in the USA, costing £90,000.
Currently, the procedure is not available in the UK but the NHS is building two Proton Beam centres, one in London and one in Manchester, which are expected to open in 2018.
The NHS sends patients abroad if care teams thinks they are ideally suited to receive the therapy.
Around 400 patients have been sent abroad since 2008 – mostly children.
The operation uses a beam of protons to eradicate diseased tissue.
Kerry and Scarlett will be travelling the 4,250 miles to Jacksonville, Florida, or the 4,500 miles to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the next two months to receive treatment. It is likely they will be there for eight weeks.
Kerry said: “It’s hard to keep upbeat and stay positive so she doesn’t know we are worried.”
The family has arranged a number of fund-raising events.
Scarlett’s dad, Lee, 40, will be running the Blackpool half-marathon on February 22 and the school is organising its own “Scarlet for Scarlett day”.
If you would like to donate to Scarlett’s fund, visit gofundme.com/kvzi90.