Abbie was initially diagnosed in December 2002 and relapsed in July 2003, with the cancer having also spread to her bones and bone marrow, and a secondary tumour in her abdomen. Abbie responded well to the heavyweight treatment she underwent – intensive induction chemotherapy, high dose chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and Retinoic acid and was declared free of disease in January 2004.
In March 2005 Abbie suddenly started limping and was eventually diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left ankle. Sadly, it failed to heal, and subsequent investigations in June 2005 showed a relapse in her bone marrow. In January 2006, after several more rounds of chemotherapy and MIBG treatment with stem cell rescue, her parents were hopeful that Abbie would go into remission. However, a scan in April 2006 showed the cancer was back. Abbie had a few months of relatively good health but by July 2006 her condition began to rapidly deteriorate and she died at home on September 11th at 7.36am.
Improve the outlook for children with cancer
Abbie’s journey inspired the charity to fight to improve the outlook and treatment options for children with cancer. Their supporters have run marathons, cycled hundreds of miles, arranged wine-tastings, baked cakes and much, much more. The charity has raised over £700,000 to date, with the majority of this supporting the ICR’s Professor Louis Chesler.
Professor Chesler and his team are working to incorporate simple blood tests into the clinic so that all children with cancer can have their cancer diagnosed quickly and accurately, with genetic alterations driving their cancers easily identified and the best possible treatment plans selected as a result. Through their funding of this research, Abbie’s Fund strives to save the lives of more children and spare them from the repeated tests Abbie had to endure.
A pilot study
Support from Abbie’s Fund has contributed towards delivering a pilot study, led by Professor Chesler. This study is offering much greater insight into gene mutations known to be associated with cancer, including the MYCN gene alteration Abbie herself had. This is an important step towards getting blood-based testing into the clinic. The ICR is incredibly grateful to Abbie’s Fund for helping to bring better treatments to children, sooner.
Abbie’s dad, Mike Shaw says: “Abbie’s Fund are very proud to contribute to the fantastic work being undertaken by Professor Louis Chesler and his team at The Institute of Cancer Research.
“We have been involved since 2005 and in that time unbelievable progress has been made in both the understanding and treatment of this horrendous cancer. The dream we had of making neuroblastoma survivable now looks as if it could genuinely become reality.
If you would like to get involved and support our childhood cancer research, please contact Nicola Shaw in the Development Team, call 020 8722 4227 or email [email protected].
Watch Nicola's video and learn more about her work with our Family Charity Partners.