A Raploch family have launched a desperate fundraising appeal to help send their three-year-old daughter to New York for “last chance” cancer treatment.
Eleonora Sapranauskas was just 19-months-old when she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma by doctors, in June 2020, after being ill for over a month.
The brave toddler has undergone rounds of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery in the months and years since.
But after having three tumours removed, the family have decided to try to head to New York for a special vaccine treatment in an effort to improve their daughter’s chance of a normal life.
Eleonora – described as a “warrior” by dad Arminas – has been battling since she was born prematurely at 28 weeks when she was placed on an incubator to deal with serious health issues following the birth.
The youngster also had 30cm of her bowel removed and endured a five-month stint in hospital in Glasgow but the little girl fought hard and eventually she was able to return home.
However, just a few short months after her arrival, the Covid pandemic hit and then there was soon to be another crippling blow delivered to the family in May 2020.
After noticing Eleonora limping on one of her legs, her parents booked her for an appointment at her GP but were reassured the issues were probably due to the way the youngster was growing and that the problems would reduce in the coming days.
However, the pain continued to grow, with Eleonora unable to sleep at nights and constantly crying – prompting Arminas and mum Marta to look for answers. After 14 visits to hospital in 19 days, doctors in Forth Valley eventually agreed to transfer Eleonora for tests in Glasgow to get to the bottom of the problem.
Following two days of scans and tests, the toddler was diagnosed with a stage four neuroblastoma which had spread to her bones and bone marrow.
Dad Arminas said: “Everybody knows that cancer treatment is very hard, but Eleonora is still always trying to stand up on her feet and play – the doctors told us she would by lying down a lot during the treatment, but she is fighting again like she was premature.
“She is very creative and she has surprised the nurses by talking in both Polish and English, she loves playing with our toys and dolls and also all of the sticky stuff – slimes and play dough!
“Eleonora never complains about any of it and tells her mum she is fine; I have never known a stronger person and she teaches me that no matter how hard things are to always keep going because nothing can beat human spirit when you want to live.”
The family are now hoping to raise £280,000 for the trial vaccine treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York and have set up both UK and Polish fundraising pages in an effort to make the journey.
Arminas continued: “Neuroblastoma is not that easy to defeat so we were searching for a lot of information about other cases similar to Eleonora and saw that some other children had this vaccine treatment.
“Our doctor told us the UK Government won’t fund this treatment due to it still being in a trial period, but it has been around for quite a long time and most of them have had good results and the neuroblastoma has not come back.
“The vaccine increases the chances of survival and the doctors have told us this is our last chance to do this, so we will try and go to give Eleonora the chance of a better life.”
To donate to the family’s fundraising effort, visit their JustGiving link here.