A GIRL who has courageously battled a rare cancer for 15 months celebrated a special sixth birthday after surgeons revealed her disease has miraculously disappeared.
Fraja Simpson’s parents said they were both stunned and overjoyed to learn her remaining MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells which had been too difficult to remove during an operation last year, had vanished.
Consultants at Leeds General Infirmary said they are at a loss to explain why Fraja, of RAF Leeming, near Bedale, North Yorkshire, is suddenly free of the aggressive disease or why it has cleared within nine months of her tumour being removed.
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Cancer specialists have said there are only two previous cases of the disease - involving a rare gene which exacerbates the cancer - worldwide which have beebn similar to Fraja’s.
In normal cases of high-risk neuroblastoma, which is difficult to treat successfully even with the most intensive therapies, children become clear of the disease a year after tumours are removed.
Fraja’s father, Garry, said the family was now cautiously optimistic she will achieve a full recovery, despite statistics showing it remains likely that the cancerous cells, which Fraja named 'Bob', would return.
“There is no Bob. Being told there was no evidence of disease is absolutely fantastic news, better than we could have hoped for," he said.
“While we are far from home and dry, with every three monthly test that comes back clear the chances of Fraja relapsing decreases and when reach 24 months after the operation, we will feel more confident she stands a chance.”
Fraja, who has undergone months of chemotherapy, sickness, blood transfusions and several life-threatening episodes in the past year, will continue to be tested at regular intervals for the next five years.
Her mother, Michelle, said the scan results had served to make Fraja’s sixth birthday on Tuesday (March 11) a momentous occasion.
She said Fraja had shown delight in opening birthday cards and gifts from well-wishers and would celebrate with a party at a Northallerton play centre at the weekend.
Mrs Simpson added: “I didn't think this day would come. We have a lot to be grateful and thankful for.
“It has been difficult not to compare how this time last year, I looked at Fraja opening her presents with tears in my eyes thinking is this the last birthday she is going to have.
“I did cry this morning because Fraja asked me if becoming six means she will get ill again and she might still die as other children have.”
Afghanistan veteran Mr Simpson, originally from Consett, County Durham, who is a flight sergeant with 90 Signals at RAF Leeming, said it was vital to continue the £500,000 fundraising campaign to fund pioneering treatment in the US which is unavailable on the NHS in the event of a relapse.
The Fraja Ellie Appeal, which has attracted support from as far afield as the Falkland Islands, has raised more than £150,000 since being launched last year.
If Fraja’s cancer was to return before the target is reached her long-term prognosis would be much poorer.
To donate, visit justgiving. com/Fraja-Ellie-Appeal, text FEAP98 followed by the amount to 70070 or send funds to the Fraja Ellie Appeal, at Yorkshire Bank, sort code 050631, account number 35520051.