A 4-year-old girl given just a 4 percent chance of survival in her battle against an aggressive form of cancer is now “completely free” of the disease, her parents have confirmed.
Isla Caton was given the grim diagnosis in March 2017 of stage four neuroblastoma—a disease that affects just 100 children per year in the UK.
The little girl has been undergoing special treatment in Spain since last August involving a novel therapy that combines antibodies and chemo.
The 4-year-old was fourth on the list to receive the revolutionary treatment at Sant Joan de Déu children’s hospital in Barcelona, but doctors decided she was the fittest, according to The Metro, so she became the world’s first.
“She was given three months to live—that’s what we were told,” her parents said, according to ITV. “We decided to go to Barcelona for a treatment we were told was not available in the UK—and, six, seven months later this is where we are!”
After nearly two years battling the disease, Isla is now finally in remission. Her parents announced the breakthrough in a message on Twitter on March 1, saying “We have just received the most amazing news—we can confirm that Isla’s treatment has worked and she is now completely cancer-free and in remission.
“We are completely overwhelmed and cannot thank you enough for the continuous support throughout Isla’s journey.”
We have just received the most amazing news – we can confirm that Islas treatment has worked and she is now completely cancer free and in remission. We are completely overwhelmed and cannot thank you enough for the continuous support throughout Islas journey. ❤️
— Isla Caton (@islasfight) March 1, 2019
Doctors cited by ITV said scans reveal the child is indeed fully cancer-free, but note she needs more medical care to make sure the disease doesn’t come back.
Her parents said in a tweet, “We still need to continue fundraising for a vaccine & other future treatments.”
Thank you to every single person that follows @islasfight with Isla being in remission & cancer free this gives every single child fighting Neuroblastoma incredible hope. We still need to continue fundraising for a Vaccine & other future treatments. Love #Teamisla Thank you 🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/rldjW1aUCx
— Isla Caton (@islasfight) March 1, 2019
Players from rival British soccer teams West Ham and Millwall came together last year to help raise the $650,000 needed to fund Isla’s treatment.
“It’s incredible,” said West Ham captain Mark Noble, who accompanied Isla as a mascot at London Stadium in early 2018. “We got the news in the week and myself and Snods were standing next to each other and it was emotional, to be honest, as we went to see her in Barcelona in hospital and we knew what her and her family were going through.”
“I’ve got close family friends who are close to her and she had been given a four per cent chance of living,” Noble continued, “so it’s incredible what the doctors and her treatment have done for her. Hopefully, her Mum and Dad and Isla can come home soon and enjoy some time with their family as soon as they can.
“It’s been a great week for everyone and it just shows what can happen when people pull together and raise a lot of money for a little girl.
“It’s so special and I’m just so pleased. Obviously, I’ve got the pleasure of knowing her but I’m so pleased for her family because they’ve been through a lot.”
The skipper summed up his emotions after hearing Isla Caton was cancer free ❤️⚒ pic.twitter.com/ZOmQoqyweT
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) March 4, 2019
‘A Long Road’
Nicola Caton, the little girl’s mother, said she was ecstatic at the news that Isla had beaten the disease.
“When we got the all clear, I just burst into tears, it was the best day of my life,” she said, according to The Metro. “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest.”
She told the Southwark News, however, that challenges remain in the tot’s battle against neuroblastoma.
“People seem to think that because she’s in remission it’s all over,” she told the publication, “but we’ve still got to fundraise to pay for the next two stages.”
“All together we’ve still got to raise about £350,000,” she said.
In a message to those who have donated so far, Caton said the family was grateful for the donations that saved Isla’s life.
“Without all those people donating we could not have saved Isla’s life,” she told the news outlet. “Thank-you for helping save her life. We will never be able to express how grateful we are.”
— Linda King (@lindazaking) March 3, 2019
After the news was announced, Nicola told the Romford Recorder: “I can’t stop crying, it’s the best day of my whole life.
“We’ve still got a while to go till it’s finished, but please God, we will get her home cancer free.”
Isla is due for two more chemo treatments, an antibody treatment, and a vaccine to make sure the aggressive disease never returns.
“It’s been a hell of a long road, it’s been non-stop for Isla too, she’s never been off-treatment,” Caton told the Southwark News. “[But] we’re hoping by July all the treatment will be over.”