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Local family's bid to raise thousands for eight-year-old daughter battling cancer

A LOCAL family are raising awareness and funds for their little girl who is battling cancer and is asking the local public for its support.

Katie Rose McKeown is a little eight-year-old girl from Moy Road, Armagh and pupil of St Patrick’s Primary, Armagh.  She is the youngest of 3 girls, Grace, age 16 and Olivia, age 10.

Katie Rose was diagnosed in March this year, with Stage 4 High-Risk Neuroblastoma, with a tumour in her abdomen. (a highly aggressive form of childhood cancer).

In December last year, Katie Rose began to feel unwell with a temperature and rash. Initially her GP thought it was scarlet fever, however soon after she had a poor appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and was pale and developed an ongoing limp in her left leg.

Due to her symptoms, the doctor requested an ultrasound of her left hip as well as her abdomen and Katie Rose then developed yellow bruising around her right eye.

Katie Rose’s mother Una told the Courier: “I just had a gut feeling something was not right.

“I had asked the doctor if anything more ‘sinister ‘ was going on but was told her symptoms were reactive of a severe infection as expected.”

But the family soon found out that her abdomen ultrasound and physical examination revealed a possible 7cm solid mass and an MRI later showed a tumour in her abdomen.

“We will never forget the initial feelings of shock and disbelief that this was happening to our little girl who had already so much to deal with having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at five-years-old,” says Una.

“It has been complete devastation for our whole family, our lives changed forever that day,” says Katie Rose’s father, Kevin.

One week after her diagnosis, Katie Rose began her treatment plan and completed eight induction rounds of chemotherapy and a further two rounds of TVD chemotherapy as scans showed she had partial clearance.

Katie Rose had her stem cells harvested, followed by surgery to remove the tumour and is now recovering at home after having had 'High Dose Chemo/Stem Cell Transplant.  This part of the treatment was very difficult as Katie Rose experienced the horrible side effects, mucositis and a long period of isolation whilst her stem cells engrafted.

On 16th November, Katie Rose's Fundraising Campaign with 'Solving Kids Cancer' became official for potential further treatment in America post her frontline NHS treatment if eligible. (This is unfortunately not funded by the NHS).

Solving Kids Cancer is a charity that supports 'Neuroblastoma'. Its aim is to help families affected by Neuroblastoma through supporting access to treatment, funding research, parent education and raising awareness.

A quick look on their Facebook “Katie Rose’s Journey” details the amazing extent of the efforts being carried out in order to raise funds for Katie Rose. 

Family, friends and the local community have been working tirelessly to raise funds for Katie Rose to have potential further treatment.

In recent weeks there has been table quiz nights, two 2019 calendars being created, Katie Rose's father Kevin's work colleagues from Morgan McLernon, 36 of them have taken part in a “5k a day” in the month of November in aid of Katie Rose’s Journey, in addition to an upcoming charity soccer/football matches, and a ‘Jump4KatieRose’ sky dive. 

Katie Rose's school friend Amy recently did a 5k run and a 4 mile sponsored walk and donated her sponsorship money to Katie Rose, emphasising the strong support Katie Rose has been receiving from those surrounding her. 

More possible fundraising ideas have been suggested and currently being organised but there is the need for alot more in near future.

Katie Rose is now recovering well at home but attends the hospital regularly for checkups and is due to have her reassessment scans before Christmas again.  Then in early January 2019 she will start her radiotherapy and following this will go on to have six months of immunotherapy.

“To date, Katie Rose has been incredibly brave throughout her treatment. She has shown ongoing resilience and her amazing wee spirit continues to shine through, even though she continues to endure so much gruelling treatment,” say Una and Kevin.

“We are so appreciative to all the consultants, doctors, nurses and the entire staff who are involved in Katie Rose’s care at the hospital, working so hard to get rid of this horrible disease.”

Katie Rose’s family hope she will be in remission at the end of frontline treatment, but in 40-50% of children diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, the cancer comes back. Once it does the chances of long-term survival drop to less than 10%.

It means that Katie Rose’s family are raising funds in case she needs to access treatment and this could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

There are many ways you can help Katie Rose such as making a personal donation, holding a fundraising event or getting sponsored to take on a challenge. Her family are urging anyone who would like to donate, help or see more of her story to visit her Facebook page “Katie Rose’s Journey” to find out more information. 

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