The family of a 12-year-old child have described their shock after a routine trip to the opticians uncovered an aggressive brain tumour.
Grace Kelly, from Oadby, Leicestershire, went to a Specsavers branch for a check-up in August last year, but opticians discovered a swelling behind her eyes.
She was referred to Leicester Royal Infirmary where an MRI scan discovered she had a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumour the size of a 50p piece.
Grace underwent an eight-hour operation to remove the mass at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre on 3 September.
But surgeons could only remove 80% of the tumour because taking any more could leave her at risk of having a stroke.
Through she has also undergone several courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, a further scan has revealed the tumour has grown back, while a second has started to develop.
Grace's mum, Vanessa, 32, says her daughter had been fit and healthy ahead of the routine trip to the opticians, which led to her diagnosis.
"The doctor showed my husband, John, and I the scan images, which showed a small mass, about the size of a 50 pence piece," the mum-of-three explains.
"He told us that Grace had a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour.
“We were really shocked and in a state of disbelief.
"I couldn’t understand how this could be happening to our daughter and I felt very scared."
The family were left shocked for a second time after further tests revealed Grace's tumour had grown back.
"Just before her cancer treatment began, she had an MRI scan which revealed the tumour had grown back," she continues.
“I was devastated. Not only had it grown back, but another smaller tumour had also developed.”
The family are now desperately trying to raise £200,000 for life-saving treatment in Germany that is not available on the NHS.
Last December, they visited a cancer treatment centre in Cologne, Germany, which offers immunotherapy, and Grace is also waiting to see if she is eligible for a trial at the University Hospital of Würzburg.
"As a family it has really hit us and has been hard to accept, it's an emotional rollercoaster of fear, pain, hope and love for our daughter," Grace's mum, a healthcare assistant has written on the family's JustGiving page.
"She is our superhero, and amazes us at how well she is doing with her treatment so far.
"Please help us fund this extra treatment for our beautiful daughter, please help us get her to Germany so she has the best chance of beating the odds."
In May this year, Grace's mum will also be taking part in a 26.2 mile jog to raise money for the Brain Tumour Research charity.
“We are shocked that the standard of care for brain tumours has been the same for the last 20 years," she explains.
“It’s so distressing knowing there’s no cure for what Grace has, but we don’t want to give up.
“Until we raise the £200,000, we can’t start Grace’s treatment.
“I’m also doing the Jog 26.2 challenge for Grace and for all of those affected by brain tumours.
"There is such a lack of funding, and we desperately need more treatments available.”
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Commenting on the family's fundraising efforts, Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “This is such a devastating story, and we are so very sorry to hear of Grace’s terrible diagnosis.
“We’re really grateful to Vanessa as it’s only with the support of people like her that we are able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Grace who are forced to fight this awful disease.”
To support the family in their fundraising for Grace’s treatment, visit their JustGiving page here.
To donate to Brain Tumour Research inspired by Grace’s story, you can click here and share your reason as ‘Grace Kelly’.
What is a glioblastoma multiforme?
According to Brain Tumour Research glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a fast-growing type of tumour of the brain or spinal cord.
It is the most common type of primary malignant brain tumour in adults, but more rare in children.
The charity says that while GBMs almost never spread outside of the brain, spine or central nervous system to other parts of the body, they are very challenging to treat because of their complex nature.
The symptoms of glioblastoma can depend on what part of the brain the tumour is located.
For example, it can grow in areas of the brain that lead to difficulties in moving limbs or in forming words. Growing tumours can also increase pressure within the skull, leading to headaches.
Other worsening symptoms include loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting; loss of balance; mood swings; problems speaking or with memory or concentration; seizures; impaired vision.
A regular, routine eye test can sometimes detect eye problems that indicate the presence of a brain tumour before any symptoms become obvious.
Additional reporting SWNS.