LAST Christmas looked bleak for the Lea family.
After doctors dealt the devastating blow that six year old Frankie-Rose Lea had a rare brain tumour, they faced the prospect that she wouldn’t survive the year.
As the tumour tripled in size and the cancer spread to her spine Frankie’s only chance of survival was proton beam therapy- a pioneering treatment only available in the US.
Determined not to accept their daughter’s life sentence mum Michelle Lea and dad Sam Lea, put their house up for sale to raise the £160,000 needed for the treatment.
But after sharing their plight with Sun readers in November, 2014, within just THREE days thousands of YOU donated enough money to send Frankie to America.
Now, after 30 hours of treatment the brave little girl has been given the all clear.
Michelle says her daughter owes her life to the generosity of Readers.
Tearful Michelle, 37, says: “Hearing that your little girl is now in remission is like winning the lottery ten times.
“We are still in shock, it’s still sinking in.
“We went to the meeting two weeks ago to hear the result, expecting a sledgehammer to the guts but instead we got the news we had always dreamed of but feared would never hear.
“She is in remission”
“And thanks to readers and the Great British public her life and all the amazing friends and family who raised funds her life has been saved- it’s a miracle in itself.”
Frankie was diagnosed with the rare brain tumour in August last year, aged just six.
Her symptoms were originally misdiagnosed as growing pains- five times.
Days later she celebrated her seventh birthday before starting treatment in the UK.
But after beginning the conventional chemotherapy the tumour tripled in size and spread to her spine.
Michelle says: “Medics said her best chance of survival was proton beam therapy in the US. But then her condition deteriorated and doctors said all they could offer was radiation treatment.
“It would have taken up to six weeks for us to appeal this was just time we didn’t have.”
Refusing to give up Michelle and Sam, 35, WHO runs a gardening business put their £220,000 terraced home on the market for £180,000 to attract a quick sale.
Their determination to save their dying daughter would have left them homeless.
Michelle says: “We were ready to live in a box- as long as we were all together. We had worked hard to get our house but we were ready to sell it all to save her.”
After sharing their heartbreaking story in The Sun donations flooded in and within three days the family had the £190,000 needed to pay for the £160,000 treatment plus transport, accommodation and after-care.
On November 24 last year they flew with their other sons, Alfie, 12 and Freddie, 6, to Oklahoma for Frankie to start the highly targeted treatment.
They remained in the USA at Christmas time, finally flying home in February this year after their daughter had completed the treatment.
Michelle says: “Every mountain we were facing looked too big to climb, from raising the money to getting her there and then to having that treatment work.
“This time last year we were facing a Christmas without our beautiful little girl and being homeless with two young kids.”
Then in May the little girl was admitted to hospital suffering a bleed on the brain and endured five operations while doctors battled to control it.
Eventually after three months in Kings College Hospital, London, she was discharged, leaving the family with an agonising wait to see if the treatment had worked.
Michelle, who is now planning a show stopping Christmas to celebrate, says: “Because of the bleed I feared the worst. I had prepared myself to get ready to fight again. But this time there was no plan B- we had already given her the best treatment possible.”
Following an MRI scan on October 19th, Michelle was called into the hospital to discuss the results on Monday 2nd November.
Michelle says: “I had a bad feeling. I was terrified but the consultant looked at me and asked ‘Why are you looking so worried?’ Then he smiled and said it was gone.
“I thought I was hearing things. I was expecting a sledgehammer blow and it just never came.
‘He said Frankie was in remission and I just broke down crying tears of joy and shock all a once.
“I never dared hope but the dream has come true. We feel like we have won the lottery ten times over.”
Little fighter, Frankie who turned eight in August, punched the air with joy and smiled when her parents delivered the incredible news.
Michelle says: “She is literally walking on air and we are so grateful for that.”
Proton Beam Therapy hit the news in July 2014 when young suffer, Aysha King’s parents were detained after taking him out of Southampton hospital and abroad to receive the specialist treatment.
Ashya was given the all clear in March and treatment is set to available in Wales in 2016 and roll out to England in 2017.
Michelle adds: “Our children need this technology here. We had outstanding treatment in the states but we should have been able to remain here surrounded by our family and friends who love and support us.
“I cannot think what is more important than saving the lives of sick children and for that reason I urge the Government to take notice of Frankie’s and Aysha King’s STORIES and make this treatment available now.”
Michelle is now raising money to buy Christmas presents to deliver to children spending the festive season in hospital.
She says: “We want to help boost the spirits of children and their families living this nightmare and it is our way of saying thank you and giving something back.”
If you would like to help the Lea’s buy gifts for children with cancer this Christmas
please visit https://www.gofundme.com/ck9b2chg