Cancer treatment sum donated in a day

Pisike Annabel.

PHOTO: Vähiravifond «Kingitud elu»

Yesterday, the media wrote about little Annabel’s fight with cancer treatment for which requires €172,000 as the Estonian health insurance fund does not cover neuroblastoma drug Dinutuximab beta that could help the child make a full recovery. By yesterday morning, a cancer treatment foundation had received double the money it had hoped for from donations.

“We are dumbfounded. We lack the right words. Estonian people overwhelmed the foundation with their kindness” said director of the “Kingitud Elu” foundation Toivo Tänavsuu.

The foundation urged people to support seven-year-old Annabel’s neuroblastoma treatment on Wednesday, and the little girl’s story was covered by investigative journalism program “Pealtnägija”. The call to support Annabel’s struggle was shared more than 3,600 times on Facebook and reached a quarter of a million people. Thousands of people and companies donated, and the foundation could close its active campaign that was a resounding success yesterday.

Annabel’s soon-to-begin treatment currently costs €172,000, and it was the foundation’s original goal to raise half of it. The Association of Parents of Children with Cancer that organizes the popular Duck Rally event planned to come up with the remaining €86,000.

The foundation now has enough money for treating Annabel and for the next little patient to require this treatment. “The foundation received nearly €200,000 in a single day!” the NGO wrote in social media. “Thank you probably sounds hollow in this context. However, we truly are speechless. The foundation has experienced nothing of the sort before.”

Annabel’s parents, who were worried whether the money could be raised, also expressed their deepest gratitude. “The feeling inside us is indescribable. What have you done!? How did it happen? We have been contacted by so many people from near and far. Offers for various events to sponsor Annabel poured in; people are offering all manner of help and support,” the foundation quoted the parents as having said.

Her parents are grateful donations will give Annabel the chance to live, sing, and invent things, and for another child with the same diagnosis getting that chance. Annabel is the second child to receive neuroblastoma treatment as a result of the efforts of the “Kingitud Elu” foundation and the Association of Parents of Children with Cancer. The treatment sports a 70-percent recovery rate. The course of treatments was made possible for five-year-old Tauris earlier this year, whose treatment is almost over and the disease in remission.

Annabel, who attended first grade in Lagedi School this year, was diagnosed with one of the most severe diseases to affect children, neuroblastoma, that is a malicious tumor of the nervous system, in November last.

By the time the tumor was discovered it had spread to over half the girl’s thorax, bent her spine, and depressed one of her lungs. The family rushed to the hospital when the seemingly healthy child found she couldn’t breather one night.

Doctors diagnosed Annabel with stage three high-risk cancer. The girl has spent the last ten months mostly in hospitals, away from home, her little sister, friends, and everyday life. Annabel first went through six chemotherapy treatments that were followed by thoracic surgery at the Tallinn

Children’s Hospital. Next, she had high-dosage chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at the University of Tartu Clinic that was followed by four weeks of radiation therapy in Tallinn.

“We have had the will to fight. Annabel has surprised us the most. Sometimes it seems her body does not correspond to logic. Her blood test results can change radically. For example, she was in a very poor way one day before Christmas and had to be given blood transfusions. There was no hope we could spend Christmas at home. However, her test results and the way she was feeling changed overnight by Christmas Eve. She wanted to go home for Christmas,” Annabel’s mother said.

It was the same regarding the surgery. The girl’s mother said it was one of the most difficult and decisive moments of her journey. The tumor the surgeons went after was located in her thorax and surrounded a lot of vital organs. “X-rays showed they were all touching, while we didn’t know the extent to which the tumor had attached itself to Annabel’s internal organs,” she said.

“When we sent Annabel in for surgery we knew that the most probable scenario would see the doctor return in 45 minutes to tell us nothing could be removed. The surgeon actually returned in four hours and said they had removed more than 95 percent,” the mother recalled. Annabel’s tumor was located in a capsule separate from other organs, which was perhaps the greatest miracle as that was the part of the disease that did not respond to chemotherapy.

The effective new drug is Annabel’s last chance now.