A SCOTS family is remaining hopeful after the treatment for their daughter’s rare form of cancer appears to have yielded a “very good response”.
Stephanie Kent and Jamie Gentleman’s daughter Flora was first diagnosed with rare and aggressive neuroblastoma in April 2021 when she was just two years old.
Brave Flora, 5, underwent a series of medical procedures including a seven-hour surgery, and the family were given the all-clear in January this year.
However, in August the family, from Aberlady, East Lothian, were devastatingly told that the cancer had returned, and had spread to new places.
Whilst the initial treatments saw Flora undergo chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and radiotherapy as well as six months of immunotherapy, there was still a 50% chance of the cancer resurging.
Now, despite the heartbreaking news of the disease’s return, the family remain hopeful with parents Stephanie, 31, and Jamie, 32, trawling through multiple medical journals and getting second opinions in their attempt to reduce the spread.
Fortunately, the youngster – who has experienced some hair loss during her recent rounds of chemo and immunotherapy – appears to be responding well to the treatment.
With her most recent scans providing a “very good response” to the treatment, young Flora’s disease has reduced “considerably”, giving the family hope that she can regain some form of normality in life.
Speaking to Stephanie today, she said: “Flora was first diagnosed in April 2021 when she was just two years old.
“It came as a huge shock to us, we’d never in our wildest thoughts expected to be told she had cancer.
“We arrived at A&E, suspecting she was dehydrated so to end up being admitted to a paediatric oncology ward that evening, was horrifying.
“Our whole life changed from that moment. We began self-isolating to keep Flora safe from Covid and other bugs.
“Life is incredibly lonely and isolating when you’re trying to keep some who is immunocompromised safe.
“We have missed out on birthdays and family celebrations in order to keep Flora safe. Flora has missed out on having a normal childhood and enjoying things like play dates and playgroups.
“Our life consisted of unpredictability and many a hospital admission.
“The relapse was discovered in August during routine scans, the week before we were supposed to fly out to New York for her next vaccine as part of the clinical trial.
“It felt as though the rug had been pulled from underneath us, for a second time.
“We had to come off of the trial in New York as you have to be free of disease to be enrolled, so that was disappointing.
“Statistically speaking, Flora was in a good position and her relapse took everyone by surprise. It wasn’t expected that she would relapse.
“The cancer came back in different places to where it was originally found.
“There is no standard cure for relapsed neuroblastoma, it’s very difficult to treat as the cancer rapidly mutates and can become resistant to treatment.
“Thankfully in recent years, there has been more research into relapsed neuroblastoma and there are treatments and trials available.
“Flora has completed two cycles of a chemotherapy and immunotherapy combination since September, with her most recent scans showing a very good response.
“Her disease has reduced considerably, which is all we can ask for at this stage. She will continue with this treatment for another few cycles before re-scanning again.”