In May this year, the parents of courageous youngster Anya Bentham were given the news they had been praying for – their beautiful daughter was clear of cancer.

After 18 months of therapy, lengthy hospital stays and tests, the three-year-old was finally able to finish her treatment and run worry free around the park, smiling and having fun like the child she is.

However, neuroblastoma is an aggressive form of childhood cancer, with a scarily high relapse rate and it is for this reason Anya’s parents Graeme and Naomi have decided to take their daughter to America to take part in a clinical trial which will hopefully stop the horrible disease from returning.

 

Anya, who lives near Chester, will be the first child from the UK to take part in the trial which has been running in the USA for the past few years.

It is run by the NMTRC (Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium) and uses an non-invasive drug called DFMO.

Anya will travel to Michigan later this month to be assessed for the trial and providing all goes well, she will begin her treatment immediately.

Dad Graeme, who works in Connah’s Quay, explained the tot will be given tablets to take morning and night, and will have to return to Michigan every three months to be tested.

He told The Chronicle that their first trip to the USA will also double up as a family holiday, and that they plan for Anya to have as much fun as possible during their time there.

He said: “Hospital visits will be minimum. She needs to go in to be assessed by the people running the trial and then we can go off and see family and have fun before coming home.

“This drug is an approved clinical drug which has been tested in America for the last few years.

“We clearly did a lot of research into this which has been key in our decision.

“Anya has been through so much and we don’t want to put her through anything that will hurt her or distress her anymore – I can’t emphasise that enough.

“The relapse rates for neuroblastoma are so high and the survival rates for children who do relapse are even more horrendous before.

“The critical period for relapse is the first few years. Its been a challenge to get to where we are now but the fear is always at the back of our minds chasing us.

“We’ve made a ‘choice’, but it doesn’t really feel like a choice, it feels like we don’t have an option as neuroblastoma doesn’t give families time to sit and wait to see if its a completely effective drug.

“This drug has the potential to save Anya’s life with minimal side effects.

“We want to give our daughter every chance that she deserves.”

The trial is being funded by the Anya Bentham Appeal and Graeme says consultants and doctors at Alder Hey are fully supportive of their decision.

She will attend the Liverpool-based hospital once a month for blood tests which will be sent over to America to be analysed.

Graeme added: “Anya’s appeal is still going, and when we come back from the states we will continue to fundraise to help other families effected by neuroblastoma and further research into the disease with a hope of bringing clinical trials to the UK.

“We sincerely want people to know how grateful we are for all the help and support we have had and hope that people will continue to support Anya’s appeal in the future.”