'Cheeky, sassy' toddler's cancer fight backed by Bradley Lowery's mum
PUBLISHED: 16:30 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:37 19 November 2019
SUPPLIED BY FAMILY
A brave Ipswich toddler battling stage four cancer has been visited by the mother of Bradley Lowery - who helped to launch the Suffolk family's campaign for life-saving treatment.
Ireland Banham, who is 18 months old, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in July.
Since then, the youngster - who is "bubbly and sassy and loves Stormzy" - has undergone a gruelling 12-hour operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with lots more to come.
Now, Ireland's mum Chloe, 21, has teamed up with the Bradley Lowery Foundation in a bid to raise £200,000 and send her little girl to New York - where vaccines could prevent her from relapsing once she is in remission.
Bradley, six, lost his battle with neuroblastoma in July 2017 - his fight captured the hearts of the public, and attracted high-profile supporters such as footballer Jermain Defoe.
Chloe, who met up with Bradley's mum Gemma Lowery this week, described the rollercoaster of emotions her family has been through.
"Ireland was diagnosed on July 2, the journey since then has been absolutely crazy," she said.
"She has had 80 days of chemo, she had a 12-hour operation, she's had a stem cell harvest which failed so she has to have that repeated, she's had more chemotherapy and in between that she's been in hospital with illnesses and things like that.
"It has been horrible, the worst time. But she's fighting through it. She is very brave, she's amazing. I'm so proud of her. She's cheeky, she's sassy, very bubbly. She's always laughing."
'We need the money to save her life'
When Ireland developed a fever after an MMR injection, medics thought it may have been a side effect of the jab - but they wanted to examine her stomach, as it was quite big.
"The next day my heart broke when they told me they had found a mass in her stomach and they were being referred to the oncology unit in Cambridge," her mother said.
"They then found she had cancer in her skull, eye, neck, stomach, lymph nodes and legs - that's when Ireland's journey began.
"We're now trying to raise £200,000 to get Ireland to the USA so she can have some vaccines - it's not a definite, but the chances are these will stop her from relapsing. We need that money to save her life because the chances of survival are so low.
Chloe added: "In one day, you go through a rollercoaster of emotions.
"You can wake up smiling, 10 minutes later you'll be crying your eyes out, it could be something as silly as she's spiked in temperature and you just dread the rest of the day because you think you now have to rush her to hospital, she's got something wrong with her, we could get home and then she's fine, you think thank god, you're happy. I can't put it into words, it's just the worst thing.
"When she's so strong, you have to be. She picks up on emotions so easily, so I have to be strong."
'Every child deserves the chance to live'
The Bradley Lowery Foundation, established in August 2017, is supporting the family's fundraising campaign by giving them merchandise, advice and emotional support.
Bradley's mum Gemma explained: "The Bradley Lowery Foundation was formed in August 2017, and this was after a long battle with my little boy who also had neuroblastoma.
"Unfortunately he didn't get the treatment that could save his life and he passed away, so I learned a lot through my journey about what treatments were available, what fundraising you can do, and the do's and don'ts around fundraising. So what I want to do is support as many families as possible in the UK to be able to get the money or the treatment that's not available on the NHS.
"Ireland is absolutely beautiful and every child, no matter what age, whatever the illness, deserves the chance to live and so if we can enable that and support the families in any way possible then we will.
"We just hope that people from Ipswich and surrounding areas really get involved in Ireland's campaign and support the family as much as possible because every child deserves the chance to live."
How can I get involved?
A series of fundraising events are planned for the appeal.
A JustGiving page set up on behalf of the family has so far collected £1,700, with 102 donations.
Ireland's mum added: "We need that money to save her life because the chances of survival are so low.
"It's impossible to raise £200,000 in a few months with no other involvement."
The JustGiving page can be accessed via this link.
What is neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that forms in certain types of nerve tissue.
According to the NHS, it mostly affects babies and young children, and develops from specialised nerve cells (neuroblasts) left behind from a baby's development in the womb.
Neuroblastoma commonly occurs in 1 of the adrenal glands situated above the kidneys, or in the nerve tissue that runs alongside the spinal cord in the neck, chest, tummy or pelvis. It can spread to other organs, such as the bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes, liver and skin. It affects around 100 children each year in the UK, and is most common in children under the age of five.
The cause is unknown. There are very where cases where children in the same family are affected, but generally neuroblastoma does not run in families.