Although she suffered from a rare form of cancer that was known to eventually invariably take the life of the patient, this little girl never lost hope and spirit. She was finally declared the first in the world to beat this form of incurable cancer.
In June 2011, Claudia Burkill was diagnosed with Metastatic PineoBlastoma—an inoperable brain tumor.
It all began when Claudia was just five years old. They were on a holiday and the mother noticed Claudia had developed a squint. She then became ill and had to be taken to hospital. Not comfortable with the diagnosis, the parents took her to a different hospital. This was when the doctors spotted the aggressive tumor in the center of her brain.
And then their grueling torture began. Claudia started to undergo treatment—however, knowing the disease was fatal and that their child was terminally ill, the parents and the entire family were in great pain all along. On four separate occasions, her family was told she had days—in some cases hours—to live. The family had even gone ahead and made preparations for her funeral.
But this little girl was a fighter.
The doctors tried an Italian treatment called The Milan Protocol which involved 44 sessions of radiology and some of the highest doses of chemotherapy ever administered to a child her age…and, it worked.
The doctors were able to reverse the effects of the usually deadly cancerous tumor.
The family has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help the research center at the University of Nottingham for working towards finding a cure for brain tumors in children.
After a three-year struggle, the mother, Andrea finally received a call one Saturday night with the amazing news.
The relieved and delighted mom Andrea wrote: “We have just received possibly the most terrifying phone call of our entire lifetime… a phone call from a consultant, Claudia’s consultant, Dr Sophie Wilne at 1730hrs on a Saturday evening.”
“They have the official MRI results and we needed them sooner rather than later.”
“I will keep this incredibly brief as I am finding it impossible to concentrate, impossible to focus and in truth to breathe and not just scream myself into a senseless fit.”
“I will try and get online tomorrow and write a full explanation to the very best of my limited medical knowledge but…..”
“CLAUDIA IS CLEAR…..CLAUDIA IS CANCER FREE.”
“CLAUDIA IS NO LONGER CLASSED AS TERMINALLY ILL.”
“A miracle has happened, it really has………I just can’t stop shaking and I need to sign off. Love to each and every one of you.”
The Facebook post has since been liked by more than 302,000 people.
This type of cancer is extremely rare and doctors only see three or four cases a year—and for which previously there was no known cure.
Although Claudia’s life is out of danger, she has suffered some brain damage from the treatment. But the family is positive that from here on her health will continue to improve. They know she is a fighter and she will do well.
Andrea said: “We had lived with a terminal diagnosis with death believed to be imminent for a crazy 694 days.
“Today is the very first day in a very long time that I can look into the eyes of our four stunning children and ‘know’ that I don’t have to plan the funeral of one of them in the very near future.”
“Today is our first day of freedom, a freedom so far lost and forgotten.”
“The mere joy of being alive today far surpasses any other single day in my live so far.
“There are no signs of any tumor, any leptomeningeal spread or any recurrent disease, anywhere.”
“We are the luckiest people in this world – Claudia is believed to be the very first little girl in the world ever to survive metastatic pineoblastoma.”
“She has paid a high price, we all have, however, she does have her life and we are dedicated to making the very best that it can be for her.”
“A life where she can experience love, joy and happiness in abundance and be cherished always.”
The sisters Abigail and Esme were just as worried about Claudia’s health as their parents were, so it was decided that they break the incredibly miraculous news to Claudia.
The sisters held hands as they broke the news, and Claudia just smiled and said “yay!” Just a little word, signifying a cry of victory!
Consultant pediatric oncologist Dr Sophie Wilne said, “This is a very difficult brain tumor to treat so I am delighted that three years later Claudia has beaten the odds.”
“Her latest MRI scan shows no evidence of tumor which is excellent news.”
“All of us who have looked after Claudia and her family at Nottingham Children’s hospital are really pleased and wish her and her family the best for the future.”