Battling back, girl 'written off' by NHS

by ANDREW LOUDON, Daily Mail

A couple turned to the Internet and ended up moving to America after British doctors told them there was no hope for their cancer-stricken daughter.

Garry and Karen Brooks believe seven-year-old Robyn was 'written off' by the NHS when she was sent home to die in June 2001.

She had been diagnosed at the age of three and endured seven courses of chemotherapy.

But Mr Brooks, a 43-year-old lorry driver, scoured the Web for help in fighting neuroblastoma, one of the most aggressive childhood cancers.

He found a cancer centre in Houston, Texas, which offered hope and the family rented out their home in Rochdale and moved across the Atlantic.

For the treatment, a tumour was cultured outside the body before cells were injected back to fight the disease.

However, in Robyn's case, it failed. Mr Brooks then found another technique being pioneered in New York.

Robyn is now one year into a three-year programme at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre involving injections of antibody vaccine.

Mr and Mrs Brooks, with their other daughter Elise, nine, are living in a hostel nearby.

Recent scans have shown no signs of the cancer which had riddled Robyn's organs, tissue and bones.

"We're praying that the next scans at the end of May draw another blank," Mr Brooks said yesterday.

"She needs daily treatment that is not available anywhere else, so we have to stay here."

He and his wife, a 38-year-old accountant, sacrificed their jobs to go to the U.S. But Robyn's treatment has cost £300,000 so far and could top £1million.

The family is relying on donations and fund-raising. Robyn's plight has been taken up by pop stars, including Atomic Kitten, who have helped raise £500,000.

He is bitter at the way his daughter was 'written off' by the Health Service. "There is no doubt that if we hadn't started on the Internet trail, Robyn would be dead," said Mr Brooks.

"I've always worked and paid my National Insurance, but when Robyn needed help it wasn't there. This is not just a jaunt - this is her only chance."

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