A Carrickfergus schoolgirl who was to undergo cancer treatment in the US has received the devastating news that the trip has been cancelled.
Ianessa Connor (8) was due to travel to Florida this month for proton therapy after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
But just before Christmas, Ianessa’s brother Steven, 27, was told by doctors that her tumour had increased rapidly in size.
“They said it would be best if she didn’t travel and was treated at home,” explained Steven, who became Ianessa’s guardian after their mum, Christine, passed away.
“We think it’s because the flight might put too much pressure on her brain.”
Ianessa will now receive photon therapy, or conventional radiotherapy, following surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children - procedures which her brother says are more likely to result in long-term side effects.
“The reason the proton therapy is so innovative is that it only focuses on the tumour itself, whereas the photon therapy also affects the healthy tissue,” Steven said.
“Surgery will be complicated because of where the tumour is in Ianessa’s brain.”
Over £6000 towards the cost of the US trip was raised following an online campaign last month.
“We were so excited about her going to Florida - we thought this was going to be her chance and that 2018 was going to be our year,” added Steven.
“When I told Ianessa we wouldn’t be going, she just started crying. It was awful.
“Ultimately though whatever decision the doctors have made we will stick with, as they’re the ones who have saved her life from day one.
“As far as Ianessa goes she takes it all in her stride and I know she’ll be in absolutely brilliant hands.”
The family are now hoping that the money raised for Ianessa can go towards building a soft play area for the Eden Primary School pupil.
Steven also praised the “excellent support” organisations such as CLIC Sargent and Children versus Cancer have shown for Ianessa, who will turn 9 on January 17.