'Brave little fighter' from Chester on road to recovery


Natalie Barnett

PARENTS of a Chester toddler have spoken of their daughter’s battle against leukaemia exactly one year after her diagnosis in a bid to help protect families from suffering the same devastating plight.

Antony and Sarah Cross had their world turned upside down when daughter Erin was diagnosed with leukaemia just weeks after celebrating her second birthday.

Erin was diagnosed with lymphoblastic (lymphoid) leukaemia, one of the most common form of childhood cancers, which left the youngster fighting for her life.

Months of agony and uncertainty followed for the family, from Upton, as they struggled to come to terms with the news. They supported their little girl through rounds of intensive chemotherapy, hospital dashes and the constant worry of keeping Erin as well as possible as she fought the disease.

Now, one year on, Erin is in the maintenance cycle of her chemotherapy and mum Sarah says their “brave little fighter”, is doing well, and is an inspiration to everybody.

Sarah hopes Erin’s story will raise as much awareness as possible about the symptoms suffered by Erin prior to her diagnosis to help guide parents who may encounter the same agonising experience.

Sarah said: “If raising awareness about the diagnosis helps at least one person then that would be fantastic. We want to do all we can to help others to try to prevent them suffering in the same way that we did.

“We have watched our beautiful little girl fight for her life day in day out. The life we had before this started now seems like a dream, in comparison to now.

Erin has guided us through this with her strength and positivity. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her.”

Erin underwent a life-saving blood and platelet transfusion after being transferred from the Countess of Chester Hospital to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital’s oncology unit  in November last year after suffering severe breathing problems and becoming pale. Her other symptoms included loss of appetite and fatigue.

Sarah and Antony had become increasingly concerned after Erin failed to recover from a string of childhood illnesses.

At first doctors thought she may have been suffering from asthma. A GP’s visit the day before her diagnosis with leukaemia failed to uncover the reason for Erin’s deteriorating health.

“The night we rushed her to the Countess doctors examined her they discovered that her liver and spleen were very enlarged,” said Sarah.

“This simple examination had not been done by the GP during the frequent visits the week before she was diagnosed. If it had been done we could have got her diagnosed earlier, which may have meant the leukaemia would not have been as advanced.”

Erin was diagnosed with leukaemia a week later.

Sarah added: “Nothing could have prepared us for Erin’s diagnosis. It was such devastating news, such a shock.

“As a mum, you never in a million years think that your child will be diagnosed with leukaemia.”

Erin’s dad Antony, who is the head of design and technology at Bishops’ High School in Boughton Heath, Chester, said: “It was like we were having an outer body experience when we were being told that Erin had leukaemia. It felt like we were looking in on someone else’s life.

“You always think things like this happen to other people, but we are feeling a lot more optimistic now, after what has been a really hard time.”

Doctors say Erin has an 80 to 90 per cent chance of making a complete recovery.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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