A TODDLER needs radiation therapy in the United States following treatment for an extremely rare brain tumour diagnosed when she was just 17 months old.
Emma Beggs was a happy and healthy tot until she was hit by an illness first thought to be a virus or urine infection.
But in October last year doctors diagnosed an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour (ATRT), a cancer which affects about three children in a million.
Statistically such cases occur once in Scotland every six years.
The 20-month old from Lochgelly, Fife, underwent surgery to remove the tumour from the base of her brain and is currently going through chemotherapy.
But to have the best chance of survival and the fewest side effects she needs a form of radiotherapy not available anywhere in the UK.
The NHS has agreed to pay the £100,000 cost of proton beam radiotherapy in the US but the family is fundraising to cover their travel and accommodation costs.
Parents Sonja Allan, 36, and Stephen Beggs, 40, plus their other child, Ewan, six, need around £8,000 to make the trip which is likely to take several months.
The first sign of the illness was when Emma started to lose her balance. An MRI scan at the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, found the tumour.
Sonja said: “The tumour is aggressive so she can’t wait too long to start radiotherapy and in the US they do proton, a newer radiotherapy that won’t be available in the UK for another year or two.
“It has less long term effects on development so because Emma is so little, this is the best treatment for her.”
She added: “We are basically waiting while the US hospital go through our application. Because the cancer is rare it’s not on their list so it has to go through a board to get approved.
“As soon as it does we have been told to expect it to go ahead pretty quickly so we wanted to make sure we had enough money in place for when that call comes.
“We set the page at £8,000 because we didn’t know how much we would need.
“After speaking to families who have went through this they said around £8,000 or more. It’s been amazing the reaction from friends and family, they’ve arranged events to help raise money too, it’s really good.”
Emma is currently at the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids in Edinburgh going through her second round of chemotherapy.
Sonja added: “It can make her tired and sick. This is her second lot, last time she got ulcers in her mouth and another time she was unable to eat or drink for nine days.
“Each one has been different. This one at the moment is a 48 hour continuous cycle, the last one was two day and the one before that was three days. It all depends what Emma needs done.
“Despite all of this, she generally does quite well and has good times when she plays away.
“Ewan’s really good with her too, whenever he comes in she has a big smile on her face.”