An 8 year old was the youngest Briton to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, something that adult women are most likely to get.
Sophie Fry was given the shocking news after she developed severe stomach pains earlier this year. She had a six-hour operation to remove an ovary and is now being given chemotherapy.
When Sophie learned she had the disease in February and was told what the treatment might do to her hair, she said: ‘Well, I’ll keep my cancer so I can keep my hair.’ But she endured the aggressive treatment and has lost the long, dark curls she was so proud of.
Her bravery has prompted a charity to reward her and her family with a holiday to a Center Parcs activity resort.
Dr Bob Phillips, consultant paediatric oncologist at St James’s, said Sophie should still be able to have children when she grows up. ‘Sophie still has a remaining ovary which will compensate for the loss of the other one. She will menstruate and ovulate as normal as an adult. ‘The course of chemotherapy Sophie is undergoing will not affect her fertility either.’
She lives in Driffield, East Yorkshire, with her mother Heidi, 33, and father Gavin, 32, a lorry driver, her brother Joshua, ten, and 15 month-old sister Katy.
Sophie has two more sessions of chemotherapy, scheduled for next week and in June. Her family hopes she will continue to respond well to the drugs.
Mrs Fry, a nurse, said: ‘We have been told it is extremely rare for someone so young to be diagnosed with it.
‘But Sophie has an amazing attitude for a little girl. She’s quite bright in herself – there are days when you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with her. Sophie has responded amazingly to previous chemotherapy, so we are hopeful that her future looks bright.’
The youngster was taken ill at the end of January, when she went to bed with stomach cramps. But her parents took her to hospital after she started screaming in agony and couldn’t walk. Doctors thought she had a urinary infection and discharged her with antibiotics.
However, the next day she was violently sick and was admitted to Scarborough District Hospital. An ultrasound scan revealed she had a large tumour on her ovary.
Mrs Fry said she discovered the shocking truth when she overheard staff in the ultrasound department talking about a ‘tumour’.
‘I shouted through the door, “Are you talking about my daughter?” And I went to pieces and broke down in the middle of the ultrasound department,’ she said.
‘It was a massive shock, I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t take it in. It’s hard enough to come to terms with it yourself, but when you have to explain to your child what’s wrong with them and what cancer is, it’s unbelievably difficult.’
Sophie was transferred to St James’s Hospital, Leeds, where she had surgery to remove the tumour. Then she had to have chemotherapy and was warned her hair would fall out.
Mrs Fry said: ‘It was very traumatic – her hair was her pride and joy. It was beautiful, long and curly. She was completely devastated.’
Relatives and friends this week launched a fundraising campaign to help the charity, When You Wish Upon A Star, which paid for Sophie and her family to enjoy a holiday this summer.
Around one in 120 women develops ovarian cancer by the age of 70. Although it is usually found in women after the menopause, it can sometimes strike in young children.
In 2005, three girls aged four or under were diagnosed with the disease and one aged between five and nine.
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