Sheffield schoolgirl who has battled brain tumour since a baby sets to fly to US for treatment
A brave Sheffield schoolgirl will fly to the US for treatment on a brain tumour she's been battling since she was a baby.
Amber Whiston, aged seven, of Woodseats, will travel with her family to Oklahoma for Proton Beam therapy for treatment on a benign tumour in the centre of her brain - thanks to generous donations topping nearly Â£8,000 in one week.
Through the long battle, the family has been through highs and lows, but sadly in December 2016, mum Lara and dad Mark were told Amber's tumour had grown considerably and several cysts had developed causing further problems.
On top of hundreds of chemotherapy sessions Amber has already undergone since she was a baby, the inspirational youngster had to spend nine hours on the operating table so surgeons could relieve the pressure on her brain just three weeks ago.
The next step is radio therapy and a panel of doctors from the Sheffield Children's Hospital signed off on treatment in the US.
Amber has already exhausted all her chemotherapy options this is the only current treatment option available. Proton therapy is less harsh than conventional radiotherapy and does not damage healthy cells in the process.
Despite her illness, Amber attends Mundella Primary School in Norton Lees while fitting in all the hospital treatments.
"I've never known anyone so tough, she's an inspiration," mum Lara said.
"She had brain surgery not long ago and she decided she wanted to go home after two days. She doesn't sit and mope she gets on with it."
At seven months-old, the loving parents noticed something was not right with Amber's left eye. After tests at Sheffield Children's Hospital, the diagnosis was confirmed.
Lara told The Star: "At first it was so hard but we've been doing this for so long I've kind of got used to going up to the hospital."
"Some days It really hits you and you think 'this is not normal' but other days you don't think anything of it."
Brave Amber started chemotherapy aged one until she was two and a half. An 18 month break followed until she was four and the treatment started again.
Despite all the treatment, the seven-year-old has still managed to get to school.
"She's got an attendance record of about 65 per cent which is incredible. The school has been absolutely fantastic, they've been so understanding with Amber having time off.
"I don't like the word 'normal' but Amber is like a normal child. She gets on with it and you wouldn't automatically think she was the one with an illness."
The NHS have paid for the treatment and accommodation for Lara and Mark but the money raised will mean Amber's younger brother Seth, three, will be able to join them along with living costs. It means the family can stay together.
Lara admitted that setting up the fundraising page was a difficult thing to do.
"It didn't sit well with me at first, I don't like asking for money but if we're going to be in the States for three months then it would be extremely hard for all the family to stay with Amber out there.
"We've had to close our sandwich shop in Crookes, it got to a point where I thought 'this is the most important thing'."
But in just eight days, friends family, and people who Lara doesn't know have chipped in a huge amount of money. They're around Â£4,000 off the Â£12,000 target.
"I was sceptical at first about how much we could raise, there's plenty of poorly children out there and others who are going through similar things," Lara said.
"But complete strangers have donated Â£50, Â£100, it's absolutely unbelievable. Close friends and people who I've not seen since I was at school have donated money as well. Even people who have given us Â£5 or Â£2 it means so much to us."
"I can talk for England but the fundrasing page has left me completely speechless. There's so much bad things going on in the world and this experience has really restored my faith in humanity."
Lara also paid tribute to the doctors, nurses and surgeons who've treated Amber over the years.
"I cannot praise them enough. The staff are really special and the Children's Hospital is absolutely incredible."
To donate to support the family while Amber undergoes Proton Beam therapy click here.