‘Overwhelmed’ family of little girl battling cancer will no longer have to sell their home after strangers donate £176,000 in one weekend to fund life-saving treatment A seven-year-old girl has today thanked thousands of strangers who have raised more than £176,000 to fund vital treatment that could save her life. Brave little Frankie-Rose Lea smiles as she holds up a sign, thanking all those who have been touched by her story. Her parents Michelle and Sam Lea told MailOnline on Friday they were prepared to make their family homeless in their quest to save their daughter. They put the family home in Erith, Kent, up for sale, desperate to raise £160,000 to fund proton beam therapy in the U.S. But within hours donations began to flood their online fund. Overwhelmed, they set up a second fundraising page, and by this morning more than £176,000 had been raised. Mrs Lea, 36, told MailOnline, she ‘never expected that to happen in a million years’. ‘What a wonderful world we live in when strangers are prepared to dig into their own pockets to help a family they don’t know,’ she said. ‘Especially coming up to Christmas.’ And Frankie-Rose, added: ‘Thank you everyone. I am feeling really happy now.’ The seven-year-old’s tumour has tripled in size and spread to her spine since she started chemotherapy in August. Applying for the treatment, sought by the family of Ashya King, on the NHS will take up to eight weeks – time Frankie-Rose does not have. But it emerged on Friday night that her latest MRI scan showed the seven-year-old needs surgery to relieve a build-up on her brain early this week, meaning she can no longer fly. Refusing to give up hope, Mr and Mrs Lea said they will drive Frankie-Rose to Germany or Switzerland, to receive the treatment. Her mother added: ‘We are overwhelmed, humbled and extremely grateful. Thank you to you all. ‘Not just the people who donated but also the people who also took their time to send us messages of support. ‘I could only read two at a time without crying but I intend to read every one. ‘I wish I could thank you all personally.’ But their joy is bittersweet because an MRI scan on Friday night after the appeal was launched revealed a fresh build up of fluid on Frankie-Rose’s brain and the couple were told she is now too sick to fly to America. Her father spent the weekend visiting clinics in Europe to gather information about taking her for treatment. Mrs Lea said: ‘ He has gone from one clinic to the next gathering as much information as he can for us to present to the doctors this week. Our hope is to find a clinic we can drive too. ‘I won’t know any more until he gets back today.’ Before Frankie-Rose can travel the youngster will undergo brain surgery this week at Kings College Hospital in London. Until then medics are unsure if she has suffered another bleed. Mrs Lea said: ‘ We won’t know more until they go inside and find out what has happened but until then we have been told not to make plans to fly. Proton beam therapy is an advanced form of radiotherapy that targets tumours with great precision. The radiation that uses beams of protons – small parts of an atom – rather than high energy X-rays, used in conventional radiotherapy. Unlike an X-ray, the proton stops after striking the target rather than continuing to travel through the body. It enables therapists to direct the beam at a tumour more precisely. The beam can be more finely controlled, in both its width and its depth, so higher doses of radiation can be more safely delivered to tumours, with less risk to healthy tissues. The treatment has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of many different tumours, including those found in the head and neck, eye, central nervous system, lung, prostate and gastrointestinal tract. The precision of the pencil beam scanning makes it especially beneficial in treating tumours adjacent to critical and sensitive organs, such as the eye, brain and spinal cord. Source: Mayo Clinic ‘To know we can now fund the treatment without losing our home has taken one worry off our shoulders and means we can focus now on saving Frankie-Rose. ‘I can’t explain how emotional I feel as a result of the donations. ‘It’s restored my faith in everything so on the one hand I feel like it’s the happiest time of my life, but at the same time the very worst. ‘We feel so happy and buoyed by the love and support but on the other hand so sad and worried at the same time. ‘I never thought it would be possible to experience the best and worst moments of your life at the same time.’ Though their house is currently still on the market, Mrs Lea said they will no longer be selling it in the near future. She said: ‘ I just haven’t had time to take it off the market because this has all happened so fast. ‘But safe to say we won’t be homeless anytime soon now. I still can’t believe it.’ Mrs Lea also issued her thanks to friends and family who have supported the family tirelessly since Frankie-Rose was diagnosed in August this year. She said planned fundraising events would still go ahead. ‘There are still lots of unknowns in terms of the total cost of treatment and after care for Frankie so we will keep the fund open,’ she said. ‘If we can get Frankie into a clinic in Europe it might be that we can now relocate the whole family so we don’t have to leave our other two children behind. We want to be together at a time like this.’ Plans are underway to put the funds into a trust managed by directors. Mrs Lea said she would also like to be able to help make the treatment more easily available for other children. She said: ‘We are the lucky ones to have had such great help and support but there will be other families out there desperate to fund this treatment too and we feel strongly that it should be available in the UK. ‘The medical care Frankie-Rose has received in hospital has been incredible. The doctors and nurses who have taken care of her up until now are amazing. ‘But we are not a third world country so why is this treatment only available in Europe or America? ‘This is Great Britain, surely UK patients should have access to the best treatments too ? ‘We know this won’t change in time to help us but ultimately we hope we can help make a difference for other families who shouldn’t be worrying how to fund treatment at an already terrifying time.’
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