THE parents of a twin girl struck down by a cancer that normally affects the middle-aged are desperately battling to raise £150,000 to save her life.
Two-year-olds Roma and Daisy Dellal were like peas in a pod when they were began their lives together, and family snaps show the sisters flourishing in their first year.
But more recent images reveal the tragic twist that life has taken for Roma after she was diagnosed with germ cell cancer – the week before her first birthday.
A year on, Roma’s family are fundraising so the toddler can be sent for cutting-edge Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) in the US.
The technology – which will not arrive in UK hospitals for another five years – allows doctors to direct a very precise beam of radioactive particles at cancerous cells, and doctors have told the family it’s the best chance for her survival.
Roma was born in Edinburgh on October 2010, 45 minutes before her twin sister Daisy.
In the months after their birth the twins’ parents, Katie and Omar, had no reason to suspect anything was wrong with the twin, who grew and developed at the same time as her sister.
But the week before her first birthday, tragedy struck after Roma was taken to hospital with chronic constipation.
Within an hour doctors had found a tumour the size of an orange in her lower back which was squashing her bladder and her bowel.
Doctors diagnosed the tot with germ cell cancer, a condition that normally affects adults aged 40 and over, and revealed she would have been born with cancer.
After an intensive six months of chemotherapy, medics were able to shrink her tumour and remove it, but sadly an MRI scan revealed a second tumour was wrapped around her lower spine, and this time it could not be removed because of its position.
On a fundraising page set up for the twin, Katie, said: “This time it cannot be removed because of its position. Roma has been told her best chance is specialist Proton Beam radiotherapy – this is not available in the UK and is hugely expensive.
“Roma’s case has been put forward by Doctors to an NHS board who will consider her case and what funding they can provide. There is no date set for this decision, and as we await this result, we need to start fundraising to support Roma through this treatment.”
Roma’s parents have been told that doctors now want to give her intensive chemotherapy in the UK, as well as another operation to remove the tumour.
The surgery itself, recovery and potential further chemotherapy will push back radiotherapy treatment – proton beam therapy in the US remains the favoured choice of their consultant.
Protons, which make up the nucleus of atoms, are used because the particles can be directed much more accurately than X-rays.
PBT is due to be available at hospitals in London and Manchester from 2017.
Katie added: “Despite being born with cancer and having had to battle for her entire existence Roma is a shining light. Her bravery, composure, courage, strength and spirit are a joy and inspiration to all who know her. Roma chooses life – please help her.”
Katie praised her “amazing” daughter, who she said loves chocolate buttons and watching Balamory.
She said: “Roma is so brave and always ready for whatever comes her way. I can’t begin to think what I would be like had I endured the pain, treatments and operations she has. Her resilience is truly amazing.”
To donate money to the fundraising campaign, you can go to http://www.gofundme.com/romachooseslife