Last December, when Tessa Garry from Castleknock in Dublin was just 14 months old, she was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the central nervous system, and the most life-threatening form of cancer for children.
Tessa started chemotherapy in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, last January and she is receiving superb care, according to her family. But she has a long battle ahead of her with several medical mountains to climb.
She has completed her initial chemotherapy and has undergone surgery to remove her primary tumour on her adrenal gland. She will start stem cell transplantation in the coming weeks followed by radiation therapy and immunotherapy, which she is expected to complete by June 2020, if all goes to plan.
Relapse is a huge concern with neuroblastoma because it occurs in half of cases, and, when it does occur, survival rates are very low.
Therefore, after Tessa finishes her treatment, her parents Mark Garry and Orla Waters want to make sure they reduce the chance that relapse might occur by having her take part in a clinical trial in America.
Tessa’s family and friends have started a fundraising campaign for the treatment, which is not available in Ireland. Their fundraising target is €375,000.
A Gofundme page, Help Tessa be Cancer Free has already raised €100,000.
Her parents told Independent.ie: “Tessa developed a slight bulge in her left eye last December, and when it didn’t go away, we took her to the Emergency Department in Temple Street. We expected to be sent home with an antibiotic, but instead our world was turned upside down when we were told of Tessa’s diagnosis.”
“Tessa has received fantastic care from her medical team in Crumlin, and our doctors are pleased with her response to treatment. However, this is just the beginning of her treatment and with neuroblastoma, the huge risk to her life remains.”
“Tessa is a wonderful, happy little girl, and despite what she has been through, she continues to maintain her sunny disposition. We have received fantastic support from everyone which has helped us get this far.”
“We have been humbled by the response to the gofundme campaign, and we appreciate each donation, and also all the well wishes for our lovely Tessa. We’d like to thank people from the bottom of our hearts for their generosity.”
Some 200 of Mark and Orlas’ friends will be running the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon for the Tessa trust. The Blanch Wheelies cycling club will be cycling 375 km for Tessa on Friday 17 May too.
For more information, or to donate to help Tessa, see https://www.gofundme.com/help-tessa-be-cancer-free and www.littlemisstessatrust.ie