Today marks the 10th anniversary of 12-year-old Leah’s diagnosis with a high-grade medulloblastoma after she seemed to be lagging behind in her speech and mobility.
Her behaviour also changed, with Leah becoming very moody and not really wanting to play.
Leah’s mum Jo said: “She seemed to be going backwards,” and wondered whether she was on the autistic spectrum. But a scan on 4th December 2013 revealed a “mass” in the back of Leah’s head.
Since then, Leah has undergone several operations and a gruelling regime of high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This has left her with long-term side-effects, including problems with her speech and mobility, vision and hearing loss, as well as severe learning difficulties and growth issues due to hormonal deficiencies.
Jo added: “Although it turned out that Leah did have brain cancer, happily she is very much alive today and her tumour remains stable. But the sad reality is she can’t run or ride a bike, she can’t read or even write her own name and her learning difficulties mean that she doesn’t understand when it’s safe to cross the road, unless she’s at a pedestrian crossing and sees the little green man light up.”
Leah’s family set up the Fundraising Group, Leah’s Fairy Fund, which has raised more than £26,000 to date with Leah inspiring family and friends to take on a Walk of Hope in September this year from Paignton to Torquay and back again. Next year, Leah’s sister Jasmine, 16, and dad Wayne are going to brave an abseil to raise vital funds for research to bring about better patient outcomes and are hoping that others will join them. Kinder treatments are desperately needed, especially for children whose brains are still developing.