Little Isabelle Touhey’s a born survivor! The four-year-old, from Ecclesfield in Sheffield, is ready to put her battle with cancer behind her after being free from the disease for more than a year.
Now the youngster is making the most of normal childhood life, free from hospital stays and treatment – and she’s looking forward to starting school in September.
Isabelle’s aunt Lindsay Garfitt said her niece had ‘taken everything in her stride’, adding: “She is just so happy go lucky – it’s great to see that after such an awful time she is now doing so well.
“You just have to trust the doctors and nurses and hope the treatment works, and clearly it did – hopefully now she has beaten it for good.”
Isabelle – called Izzy by all her family and friends – was diagnosed with rare neuroblastoma as a toddler two years ago, after initially being taken to see a GP by mum Kelly, 36, who thought her daughter simply had a cold.
But when she was referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for a chest X-ray as a precaution, the results revealed signs of a tumour in her chest cavity.
“Kelly got a call from the hospital saying she needing to take Izzy back in, as they’d seen something on the X-ray,” said Lindsay.
“She immediately went into panic mode, she was really upset and worried.”
Lindsay, 29, said she thought it was ‘coincidence or fate’ that her niece’s illness was caught at an early stage. “The cold had absolutely nothing to do with the neuroblastoma – really it was just the fact that our doctor referred her to have an X-ray.
“But if she hadn’t had a cold I dread to think what would have happened.”
Izzy underwent surgery to remove a section of the tumour, but then needed chemotherapy and radiotherapy to destroy the rest of the growth, which was partly sitting on her spinal cord.
“It helped that she was so young,” Lindsay said.
“She just did it and didn’t know about the consequences or what might happen. If she had been older it would have been more difficult.”
She added: “Izzy’s a real character and such a funny little girl. She’s always had an outgoing, confident personality, but nothing fazes her now. Her hair has grown back now but she was never bothered when she lost it anyway!”
In less than two months she will be joining big sister Lia, nine, as a pupil at Ecclesfield Primary, after making good progress at Lilypad Nursery on Whitley Lane.
“It was a concern for Kelly that Izzy had to stay away from other children while she was in hospital, but she’s taken it all in her stride,” Lindsay said.
“We’ll make sure she remembers how brave she was and how courageous. She will have to be monitored forever, even as an adult, so if anything happens it would be picked up early.”
Izzy’s family have launched a fundraising challenge to thank the children’s hospital and Weston Park Hospital where she was treated.
Already thousands of pounds has been raised through a charity calendar – made by the Seven Hills WI group, which Lindsay leads – and a 170-mile coast-to-coast cycle ride by Izzy’s dad Scott, 37, who runs his own signwriting firm.
“The challenge will continue for 267 days, the amount of time that Izzy was undergoing treatment,” said Kelly.
“We are hoping people will get involved to walk, run, cycle or swim a collective 1,335 miles, five miles for every day Izzy had treatment, and that people will sponsor the challenge overall.”
n Visit www.teamizzybigthankyou.blogspot.com to find out more.