A courageous schoolgirl who has been fighting cancer for nine months will visit 10 Downing Street today to help highlight the power of research in beating the disease.
Alyssa Davies, eight, will be guest of honour at a special reception hosted by Samantha Cameron, to launch Cancer Research UK’s inspiring new Kids & Teens campaign and encourage the public to get involved.
Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens will call on people in Preston and across the UK to donate to help beat children’s cancers sooner and save more lives like Alyssa’s.
It’s an appeal her family wholeheartedly support. After Alyssa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in March last year, they know firsthand just how crucial new discoveries and breakthroughs are to help more young people survive.
Alyssa, a pupil at Ribby with Wrea Primary School, had been poorly, including extreme fatigue, swollen eyelids and backache and after a few trips to her GP was referred to Preston Royal Hospital where doctors immediately suspected leukaemia.
The little girl had a platelet transfusion before being transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where the leukaemia diagnosis was confirmed. She then spent the next four weeks receiving intense chemotherapy treatment.
Angela had to stop her work as an accounts clerk at Kirkham Grammar School to be with Alyssa full time at hospital while husband Michael also took off time off work initially. He then continued to work with both sets of grandparents pitching in to look after Alyssa’s younger sister Lauren.
Now Alyssa is one of 21 youngsters from across the UK – all affected by cancer – who are travelling to 10 Downing Street to have their bravery recognised and help raise awareness of the urgent need to boost funds for research.
Mum Angela said: “We’re honoured and overwhelmed that Samantha Cameron is helping to celebrate the courage of children like Alyssa. It feels surreal. When we were told she had leukaemia it was an absolute shock, but we have all just had to get on with it and she has been an inspiration.
“Thanks to research, Alyssa is here today so we’re proud to be a part of such an important event.”
Alyssa has now completed the intense part of her treatment and is on maintenance treatment which means a hospital visit every two weeks as well as oral chemotherapy. Her treatment will continue for the next 18 months.
Currently, some survivors of children’s cancers endure long-term health issues such as learning difficulties, hearing and fertility problems, which can affect them throughout their adult lives.
A key focus for Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens will be to fund research to develop kinder treatments, striving for fewer side-effects to avoid problems such as these for children in later life.
The charity is the UK’s leading funder of research into children’s cancers and last year spent more than £6 million helping to transform the outlook for young people with the disease. Thanks to research around three-quarters of 0-14 year olds with cancer are now cured compared to only a quarter in the late 1960’s.
Alison Barbuti, Cancer Research UK spokesman for Lancashire, said: “We’ve completed life-saving work that would not have been possible without the generosity of our supporters and the good news is - more children are surviving cancer than ever before. But there’s still so much more to do and so we’re grateful to have the support of Samantha Cameron in raising awareness.
“Sadly, not all children survive cancer and we must continue to fight for every child and every family.
“That’s why we’ve launched this new long-term fundraising campaign – the more research we can do the sooner we can beat children’s cancers.”
To support Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens text KIDS3 to 70200 to donate £3 or for more information about the campaign visit cruk.org/kidsandteens