The parents of a four-year-old with an aggressive childhood cancer are desperately trying to raise funds for her to have lifesaving preventative treatment in America.
Maysaa Yaqub, of Burnley, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40-50 per cent chance of long-term survival in March this year.
Dad Osama Yaqub, 40, said his little daughter had become very clingy and she was rejecting certain foods at the height of lockdown. Things took a turn for the worse when her lips turned blue and her tummy became swollen, so they took her to the GP, followed by a visit to Burnley A&E.
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Further scans and tests saw Maysaa being transferred to Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital before the devastating diagnosis came at the end of March.
Five rounds of chemotherapy and hospital admissions followed, as well as high risk surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible during a gruelling eight-hour operation, on a day that Osama describes as ‘one of the hardest days of our lives.”
Yet the surgery provided a glimmer of hope when surgeons revealed that 95 per cent of the original tumour had been removed
The four-year-old then underwent high dosage chemotherapy, remaining in isolation whilst her parents took turns to care for her.
Little Maysaa then also suffered from fevers, owing to being immunosuppressed nausea and diarrhea, and was on morphine owing to extreme pain.
Maysaa, who has two older brothers, Zayd, 11, and Ammar, 9, now faces radiotherapy and immunotherapy treatment once she has recovered from high dose chemotherapy.
Osama, a sales manager, said: “It has been a very difficult period for is, just adapting to the situation and the emotional impact that came with it, and the thoughts and the worries that go through your mind.
“It is hard to make meaningful plans without thinking, will she still be here to share this with us?
“It’s quite distressing. If I give myself the chance to think about it too much, I will not be able to function and the same for my wife.”
“It was a difficult few weeks when we nursed her back to Healthy Lifestyle after the surgery. We understand that the doctors are trying to work as fast as they can, so we nurse her back to health for the next thing, then we are back to square one, nursing her again.
“Its very hard seeing her go through that, watching her, and trying to imagine what she is feeling at the time.”
Owing to the high chance of the neuroblastoma returning, her family are raising money for potentially lifesaving treatment in America for once her front-line treatment ends, which could either get her into remission or keep the cancer away, which could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The family has teamed up with charity ‘Solving Kids’ Cancer’ to raise money for the life saving treatment.
Her mum, Ihssane Arrami, and her dad, Osama, both said in a statement on the family’s JustGiving page: “If the cancer does return, there is a very poor chance of survival. High risk neuroblastoma carries a high chance of returning. Therefore, we want Maysaa to receive this treatment as soon as possible after the end of her UK treatment.
“Watching our beautiful baby girl go through some of the most extreme forms of treatment and the side effects they cause has been torturous and tremendously difficult, but the patience and grace with which Maysaa bore them was truly inspirational.”
Dad Osama added: “All the NHS staff we have encountered have been fantastic. And our family and friends have been so supportive in helping to spread the word. It is heart-warming and touching.
“The response has so far been fantastic, and now we are just trying to get the message out there.
“It is essential that she has this treatment. Neuroblastoma in itself doesn’t have the greatest survival rate, and if it were to return, her chances of survival would be even lower.
“This particular treatment is preventative – its impact as such could mean that it saves her life and increases her chances of survival, despite the odds.”
To find out more about the family’s campaign, and to contribute to their fundraising appeal, click here or visit their
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