THIS heartbreaking photo shows a cancer-stricken five-year-old being comforted by her little sister as she sits over a sick bowl.
Her parents, Chris, 34 and Abigail, 33 from Ware, Hertfordshire, said the week she was diagnosed was “the most devastating” of their lives.
Arianna is currently going through an intensive treatment plan including cycles of chemotherapy every ten days.
Her sister Mya, three, gives a helping hand when she can, despite not understanding what’s going on.
Dad Chris said: “She knows that Arianna is unwell and needs to go to hospital for medicine, but she doesn’t understand why we need to go so often.
“One day when Arianna was sick, Mya just jumped up and brought her a bowl because she has seen me, and her mum do it.
“She loves her sister, and she looks up to her.
“She always wants to be around her but when Arianna is not here, her best friend is missing.”
Chris and Abigail, also parents to Zara, one, initially assumed Arianna’s pain was caused by a new bed.
Chris said: “In July, Arianna was complaining about a pain near her shoulder blades, but we just assumed it was muscular after just buying her a new bed, after seeing an osteopath the pain subsided.
“However in November, the pain shifted to her lower back pain and it was clear something was very wrong.”
Overnight, the pain had become so agonising for little Arianna and her temperature had spiked to 40 degrees.
As doctors prescribed antibiotics for a possible kidney infection, Abigail felt that something wasn’t right, and her maternal instinct kicked in.
She took Arianna back to the GP as well as A&E eight times in six days.
Chris said: “In A&E, they’re always busy and we were initially told it would be a seven hour wait to see a doctor but my wife insisted further tests were done.
“After an ultrasound on her kidney, the radiologist asked for his colleague and my heart sunk – I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.
“They told us they had found a tumour above her left kidney.
“Two days later we were at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where they established that the tumour was on her adrenal gland which led them to suspect she had neuroblastoma.”
Arianna was diagnosed with stage 4, high risk neuroblastoma on November 19, 2021.
The cancer affects around 100 children a year in the UK, according to the NHS.
Almost half of neuroblastomas are a type that can return despite intensive treatment.
With only 67 per cent of patients in England surviving five years or more, neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of all childhood cancers.
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Chris said: “With this type of diagnosis, we were given a 40-50 per cent chance of survival with a 60 per cent chance of relapse.
“In a week, we found out our daughter had cancer, her survival rate had now dropped, and she would now have to go under an aggressive treatment plan.
“It was the most devastating week of our lives.”
Arianna has received six rounds of chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
As the brave girl undergoes her treatment, she is also excited for the arrival of her third sister who is due around her 6th birthday in March.
A GoFundMe was set up to help the family fund the costs of caring for Arianna in hospital, such as travel, hotel stays and food.
But they write on the page: “Although these costs are still very much present it looks extremely likely that Arianna will need further non NHS funded treatment.
“Hence why the target has been raised for the treatment that Arianna is likely to need in America called the Bivalent vaccine.”
The US-made Bivalent vaccine is thought to reduce relapse risk in children with neuroblastoma significantly.
It trains the immune system to identify and destroy neuroblastoma cells lurking in the body after chemotherapy.
The vaccine is currently being evaluated in clinical trials.
Chris said: “Great Ormond Street is a great hospital with talented specialists but there are additional treatments that can enhance her [Arianna’s] prognosis.
“We have high hopes that Arianna will get through this, and she will have NED (No Evidence of Disease) and at that point there is the ‘Bivalent vaccine’ that reduces the risk of it coming back.”
Chris and Abigail need $342,000 (£250k) for the procedure in New York.
Chris said: “Any money raised that isn’t used for Arianna’s care, we would like to donate to another family in a similar situation or to the various charities that have helped them along the way.”
Arianna continues to laugh and smile and her love of superhero costumes, especially Wonder Woman, has given her strength on the hardest days.
Chris said: “She really is a gift; she is perfect in every way.
“It is horrendous something like this can happen to someone with such a good heart.”
You can donate to Arianna’s GoFundMe on this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-raise-funds-for-arianna