THE mother of a four-year-old girl who was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer, three weeks ago has spoken out after dozens of people raised more than £2,000 online.

Lauren Carter, of Bishopton, near Stockton and mother to Iris Mai, said she wanted to thank members of the public for their support, after her daughter was diagnosed with neuroblastoma on June 17.

The rare form of cancer, which mainly affects babies and young children, develops from specialised nerve cells (neuroblasts) that have been left behind from the womb.

Mrs Carter, who is married to Mark Carter, and share four daughters, Ava, 2, Lily, 10, Isabelle, 12 and Iris, said in less than 48-hours, their world had been turned upside down.

Before diagnosis, Mrs Carter’s mother, Heather, said the four-year-old “didn’t appear herself” upon return to the family home from a day out.

Iris also became increasingly lethargic and tired throughout the week, which alarmed Mrs Carter who described her daughter as usually "full of beans".

At one point, Iris had asked to sit in her sister’s pushchair instead of walking home from nursery.

A few days later, Mrs Carter noticed the skin around Iris’s eyes had appeared yellow.

The Northern Echo:

Mrs Carter said: “She looked like she was wearing bright yellow make-up, I actually asked her if she had been in her sister’s make-up draw.”

After visiting the GP, Mrs Carter monitored Iris’s situation, but later discovered the colour had spread across her body on the morning of Saturday, June 15.

She said: “I was in a massive panic, she was bright in the morning and then the yellow had spread by 11am. We took her to urgent care at North Tees University Hospital in Stockton and when the triage nurse saw Iris, we were sent straight through to a GP because of the seriousness.”

The family were then told an emergency blood sample would need to be sent to doctors at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. After X-rays had also been taken, Mrs Carter said: “We knew then that something was seriously wrong.

“We found out that doctors had seen more tumours behind the heart – and they thought it was initially Leukaemia.

“I thought OK ‘it’s treatable’ but then the tests from James Cook came back inconclusive and we were sent to the RVI in Newcastle by emergency ambulance that evening.”

The Northern Echo:

After spending the night at the RVI hospital, where doctors conducted further test, about six professionals asked to speak with Mrs Carter on Monday, June 17, when she was told Iris had neuroblastoma - doctors said the cancer had spread over a six-month period.

Mrs Carter said: "The doctors said there is only a 50/50 chance of Iris being with us. We just couldn’t accept it, you just can’t understand it. We were in a state of shock. We cried and collapsed because we couldn't comprehend it. Our baby, our beautiful, sweet innocent girl."

On Friday, Iris officially started chemotherapy sessions on her tumours.

Mrs Carter said: "She's had the first two days of chemotherapy and then it's administered every ten days.

"Because of my previous employment, I am allowed to give her the other injections myself, otherwise we'd have to go to the RVI everyday, which is a three-hour round trip."

Recently, an official fundraiser was set up by Mr Carter, following a number of duplicate pages being set-up by members of the public on Justgiving.

The page was also set up as friends of the family had asked how they could donate to Iris's cause.

Mrs Carter said: "People kept asking how they could give money and said they wanted to do something.

"We didn't expect that level of donations, we're so grateful. In the future, we may look at the further treatment that is available.

At time of publication £2,140 had been raised by 79 people.

Mrs Carter added: "As a family it is going to make things a bit easier for us."