Blackpool mum’s shock as ‘tumour the size of adult fist’ found behind four-year-old daughter’s eye
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Skye Brierley, aged just four, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer after her parents, Ruth and Michael, made the shocking discovery.
It transpired that she had a tumour the size of an adult fist in her brain.
Doctors later confirmed that Skye, then aged just four, had Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) - an aggressive form of cancer – in her head.
The family have been told the cancer is incurable but Skye, now aged nine, is undergoing ongoing treatment after proton beam therapy shrank the tumour.
Although there is no cure, Skye is able to make the most of life, loves school and is also a fan of console games.
And the charity Make-A-Wish UK has this month launched a gaming fundraising appeal for children like Skye, hoping to raise £400,000 – the amount that it says is needed to grant wishes for 200 children.
The charity is appealing for gamers to get on board with the campaign.
Skye’s mum Ruth, 47, recalled: “It was two days before Christmas, on December 23 2017, when Skye woke up with her left eye turned inward.
“I rushed with her to Specsavers where they were unable to diagnose the problem – but I knew it wasn’t right.
"By December 27, Skye’s condition had not improved so I took her to the GP that day, and he ruled out diabetes, which we thought it might have been.
"Then he shone a light up her nose and said - ‘I need you to go to Blackpool Victoria Children’s Hospital, and I need you to go right now’.”
Ruth and Skye were at the hospital for 10 hours undergoing CT scans, blood tests and cognitive functioning tests.
Doctors told Ruth they suspected that Skye had Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS), which was later confirmed.
"Her tumour was the size of an adult fist,’ said Ruth. ‘It hadn’t infiltrated the brain but had gone under, strangling her optic nerve.”
Chemotherapy treatment began straightaway at Manchester Children’s Hospital after a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.
Due to the location of the tumour, it was considered inoperable.
After six months of intense chemotherapy, the family were flown to Florida for 12 weeks to undergo proton beam radiotherapy, while Skye’s older siblings stayed behind with relatives to avoid missing school.
‘It was the worst time of our lives,’ said Ruth.
"We all missed each other so much, and it was so stressful. Skye found it very difficult to cope, but she was incredibly brave.”
Skye loves primary school and wants to grow up to be either a teacher or an oncology nurse. She is currently waiting for her wish for a gaming PC to be granted by Make-A-Wish UK.
Ruth said: ‘Skye has a lot of anxiety after her ordeal, and gaming is an escape for her. It’s a place where she can be creative and let her imagination run wild. "
She loves to build things – she wants to build an entire world of mansions on Minecraft!’
Make-A-Wish UK is appealing to the gaming community to take part in sponsored livestreams, using platforms like Twitch to raise money for Make-A-Wish UK whilst gaming.
Jason Suckley, Chief Executive of Make-A-Wish UK said: ’When a child like Skye is diagnosed with a critical condition, the joy of childhood is brought to an abrupt end with treatment plans, hospital appointments and worry taking over.
“The power of a wish can light up the darkness for children living with a critical condition, leaving a profound and lasting impact on their lives.
"Your next livestream could be a lifeline, helping to light up the darkness for 200 children like Skye across the UK.”
Ruth hopes that a gaming PC will provide entertainment and respite for her daughter during ongoing treatment, as the location of Skye’s tumour means she will sadly never be given the ‘all clear’.
“The best thing we can hope for is stability,’ said Ruth. ‘The way the doctor explained it, it’s like her tumour is now encased in scar tissue – and that’s where we want it to stay.
"But it will never be gone completely.’
Donate to Make-A-Wish UK’s fundraising appeal at www.make-a-wish.org.uk/wish200week.