Brave 4-year-old starts school despite living with inoperable brain tumour
The first day of school for any child is a mixture of excitement and nerves. Suddenly they're in a brand new environment, sitting with a bunch of other unfamiliar but equally giddy kids, and being welcomed by a strange new grown-up. Perhaps the hardest part of all is the initial goodbye to Mom and Dad, who are likely even more emotional than their children.
But for father Kenny Thomas and his wife Francisca, the first-day-of-school emotions were much higher than the typical family. Their four-year-old daughter Christina fell ill last October. It started with tiredness, then a slight limp, until eventually she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February. An inoperable brain tumour.
Doctors said the tumour was aggressively cancerous, and were unable to give a confident prediction of what could or would happen to Christina. Kenny and his wife were told that chemotherapy and radiotherapy might give their daughter a bit longer to live, but it wouldn't save her life.
After much discussion, the parents decided not to subject their daughter to the associated risks of the therapies, especially when they knew the tumour could not be surgically removed anyway.
"The fact remains that the tumour is inoperable because of its position on the brain stem," wrote Kenny on a fundraising page set up for Christina. "The conventional treatments currently available here in the UK are not going to have much effect in the long term, if any, on the higher grade aspect of that tumour. So the prognosis remains poor."
The fundraising page has been set up to raise enough money to bring Christina to a clinic in Mexico, where other children are being successfully treated for brain tumours. They're hoping to raise £300,000 (approximately $400,000) to cover medical expenses, flights and accommodation for the amount of time they'll need to spend there.
In the meantime, Kenny and Francisca are carefully monitoring their daughter and have her on a regime of juicing, organic foods, supplements and superfoods as part of an alkaline, plant-based diet. They believe it's had a positive effect, as Christina hasn't deteriorated as doctors feared she might.
Which is why Christina's parents felt "blessed" that Christina was able to attend her first day at school, admitting that they didn't see this day coming.
They said that she's still unsteady on her feet and that she's weak on the right side of her body, so she can't manage full days at the moment. "She is doing half days now and that is such a blessing for us, a minor miracle, we never thought we would get to September and she would be going in for a half day and we are looking to increase that time," Kenny told Metro UK.
"It was a mixture of happiness and sadness if I’m being honest because she stood outside the house, she was a little bit frail and her balance wasn’t good. She’s full of joy and laughter as a child and you kind of think 'well it’s great that we got to this point' but part of me thinks of what it could have been or should have been."
It was bittersweet for the parents, who said they could see Christina's nursery school friends running around, making them think to themselves: "my little girl is the one that’s not quite doing that and may never do that".
But ever since learning of Christina's condition, they said they've never given up on her. At the moment, they've gathered one third of their fundraising goal to pay for Christina's treatment options abroad. Kenny, who is a soul singer with four hit UK singles to his name, has also been playing charity gigs for his daughter.
Given her condition, it is an incredible thing for Christina to attend her first day of school at all, let alone with such positivity. She is a true figure of bravery and resilience.