Looking at the smiling face of this six-year-old girl who radiates joy, you would never guess the gruelling journey she has endured over the past year.
Erin Cross has been through months of exhausting cancer treatment, chemotherapy, radiation and a lifesaving bone marrow transplant to get her to where she is today – a ‘happy and thriving’ little girl with a promising future.
On the one-year anniversary of the day Erin’s parents Sarah and Ant were given the devastating news their daughter had relapsed after previously being given the all clear from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, we look back at a year no parent should ever have to experience.
On March 23 2016, Sarah and Antony from Upton were heartbroken to learn that 95% of Erin’s bone marrow contained leukaemia cells, after three years of treatment that had given her the all clear.
Doctors told them that chemotherapy alone would not be enough to cure Erin and her only chance of beating it would be a bone marrow transplant.
But in order to get one, Erin needed to be in remission and her only hope to achieve this was to undergo urgent Car T cell therapy, a treatment only available in the USA – at a cost of more than £100,000.
Desperate, the Cross family turned to the people of Chester for help and, before long, people from all over the world were joining in to donate at a rate of almost £100 a minute.
The target was smashed in an astonishing 48-hour period.
But just weeks before she flew to Seattle to begin treatment, Erin suffered a life-threatening stroke which left her parents fearing they would lose her, but mercifully she pulled through and began Car T Cell treatment in July.
Three months later, the family’s prayers were answered at last as Erin was declared in remission.
A jubilant Sarah wrote on the All About Erin Facebook page: “Erin is in remission! We’ve just had the phone call! Most amazing news ever!”
She told The Chronicle she broke down crying after hearing the news she had waited to hear for so long.
“It’s just so amazing and hard to put into words how happy and relieved we are. I’m just so glad I went with my gut and pushed forward with getting Erin on the trial at Seattle. I knew that the T Cell therapy would be the only option for Erin with the chemotherapy not working – I think mother’s instinct was working hard at that point!”
Once back home in Chester, the focus was on finding a suitable bone marrow donor that would give Erin a second chance at life.
That came in the form of an anonymous young female who Sarah described as having a ‘heart of gold’.
The transplant took place just before Christmas and meant a long recovery process for Erin’s body to take time to accept the new stem cells.
Slowly but surely, Erin has made improvements month by month and is now a happy and smiling little girl who wants to play and have fun all day.
And she has been enjoying some well deserved treats, including a day backstage at Britain’s Got Talent where she wowed judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams with her strength and personality.
It’s no wonder Sarah and Ant are bursting with pride for their precious daughter – who can truly call herself Chester’s bravest youngster.
Writing on All About Erin, they said: "Today marks one year since Erin relapsed... it's been a hell of a year but with the amazing help from many people in our community and the skill of Erin's doctors and nurses in Manchester, Liverpool and Seattle, Erin is happy and thriving today."