Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Wednesday, 4 August 2010 12:27 UK
Appeal for Lower Darwen cancer girl Madison Allan
Madison Allan
Madison Allan was preparing to start school when the cancer returned

The clock is ticking down on a life-or-death fund-raising appeal for a child from Lower Darwen.

Five year old Madison Allan has an aggressive form of cancer called neuroblastoma.

Her family are trying to raise £250,000 to get treatment in Germany and then America after all attempts to save her in the UK have failed.

"Getting the treatment abroad is her only chance," says her grandmother Alison Foster.

'Prepare for the worst'

"We've been told there's nothing else they can do for her here after the latest course of chemotherapy... and we should prepare for the worst."

Despite various courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to shrink her tumour, it is the size of her stomach and pressing on vital organs.

"It's heartbreaking to see her in so much pain and unable to eat; it's horrendous," says her grandmother.

Madison Allan and Scarlett
Madison Allan with her younger sister Scarlett

"It is a 'spaghetti-type' tumour which has wrapped itself around main blood vessels making it much more complex to treat," explains Alison.

However, a consultant in Germany has already agreed to treat her with an innovative course of chemo which they are hoping will reducing the mass significantly and then she can get treatment in America which claim to completely destroy tumours.

"Of the ten children from the UK that have recently undergone the trials in Germany, it appears to be working so we are hopeful," she says. "It is very expensive; the course in Germany alone costs £20,000 but we want to give her every chance."

Madison was first diagnosed with cancer when she was ten months old.

'Four fantastic years'

"She had chemotherapy and various treatment and seemed to respond well. The tumour shrunk to a quarter of the size and after that she recovered.

"We had four fantastic years and she was looking forward to starting school," recalls Alison.

"However, in May of last year she complained about tummy ache. We all knew straight away it had come back."

In June, she underwent more chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy. Madison was then operated on to remove the mass.

Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that affects children, mostly under the age of 5 years. Only around 100 children in the UK are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year
It often starts in the abdomen and can spread to other parts of the body such as the bones, liver and skin through the blood and lymphatic system
The most common symptom is a lump in the tummy which may cause the child's stomach to swell, causing discomfort or pain. In some cases it can be a lump in the neck, perhaps causing breathlessness or difficulty in swallowing

However, three hours into 12 hour operation they had to stop because the tumour was wrapped around a vital blood supply. "Had they continued she would have bled to death."

"We've now been told to enjoy the time we have left but where there is life there is hope."

Now the family are desperately trying to raise the funds for life-saving surgery abroad. They have set up the Madison Allan Appeal and been blown away by the generosity of the people in Darwen and Blackburn.

"People have been doing all sorts of things to help," she explains. "We've been absolutely amazed. Madison's school - and loads of other local schools - have done all kinds of things to raise money for the Appeal.

"Blackburn Council had a dress down day and Primark donated £5000 when they opened the new store in The Mall, Blackburn."

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific