A DAD has told of his fury at the coronavirus pandemic for robbing his 10-year-old daughter of a chance for cancer treatment abroad.
Eva Williams, from Wrexham, was diagnosed with a rare high-grade diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) tumour in January.
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Speaking to the Mail Online Eva's dad Paul Slapa said the hardest thing about his daughter's disease was that they were unable to do anything to prevent it from progressing.
Due to the global pandemic, Paul and his wife Carren have been unable to travel abroad for experimental medical trials that could potentially have helped save Eva's life.
"We've struggled to do anything – flying overseas, accessing trials and medication," Paul said.
"It's already difficult but it has been made more difficult by all the restrictions in place.
"You also spend time trying to do things as a family as best you can which has also been affected by Covid.
"Any of the trials we chose are all experimental treatment, so we will never know whether or not they would have been successful or not.
"But the fact is the chance and opportunity to try was taken away by Covid.
"That's the thing that really makes you feel like you have been wronged."
'TOO FAR PROGRESSED FOR TREATMENT'
Desperate to save their daughter, Eva's parents crowdfunded to raise the £500,000 needed for private treatment in New York earlier this year.
So far they have raised over £321,000 for their daughter's treatment.
Eva has undergone radiotherapy and her family have been told there are
no further treatment options on the NHS.
The key trial that the family had raised money for stopped taking on patients due to the spread of coronavirus across the world.
By the time the trial began taking on new patients in the summer, Eva's DIPG was too far progressed to be accepted for treatment.
"We lost six months because of not being able to access the treatment due to Covid," Paul told the Mail Online.
"I try not to sound too bitter, but it's frustrating. There has been a lot of talk about how Covid has impacted the diagnosis of childhood cancers.
"It has stopped not just us, but so many people accessing treatment."
Paul and Carren became aware of Eva's sickness in December 2019 when she complained of dizziness and blurred vision.
After an optician's appointment, she was referred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where a CT scan revealed a mass on her brain.
The survival prognosis for this type of brain tumour – the deadliest type of childhood cancer – is eight to 12 months, cancer charity campaigners say.
DIPG tumours are often difficult to remove from patients due to its location close to the brain stem.
After missing the clinical trial in the U.S earlier this year Eva and her parents are now speaking to doctors in Zurich who are running trials for DIPG in the New Year.
They are hoping to source drugs used on the trial for Eva to take at home and the results will be fed back to the doctors through her oncologists in the UK.
Hugh Adams, from Brain Tumour Research, said: "We are thinking of Eva
and her family at this awful time and urge those touched by her story
to back the family's campaign.
"Coronavirus is having a huge impact on brain tumour patients and their families, with many having to self-isolate due to being immunosuppressed and treatments being postponed."
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