A tiny tot is facing Christmas in hospital as she undergoes five weeks of intensive chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
The parents of Erin Marshall received the shock diagnosis on December 3 and the two-year-old is now in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital.
Once that is completed her devastated parents, Catrina Kerr and Derek Marshall, hope to be able to bring her home to complete the rest of her treatment at Ninewells Hospital.
Erin, who’s also undergoing steroid treatment, has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. There are only a few hundred children in the UK with the condition.
Catrina and Derek, from Newport, have been told their daughter faces up to two and a half years of treatment.
Catrina, 35, a research scientist at Dundee University, said the family were still coming to terms with the shock diagnoses.
She said: “One day life is going along nicely and the next you get something like this.
“It feels like we have been hit in the stomach. It was only October when we were all on a family holiday and she was running about crazy all over the place.
“Our daughter is basically fighting for her life.
“She is going to have an ongoing battle for the next few years.
“We are still coming to terms with everything that has happened in the last few weeks but so far everything is going as well as we could hope for.”
After fearing Erin had developed a chest infection, Catrina and Derek took her to see doctors.
Catrina said: “She was put on antibiotics but we realised that she really wasn’t improving and then things began to get worse with her condition was definitely deteriorating.
“We just knew that something wasn’t right.”
Erin was finally diagnosed as having the condition on December 3 and was immediately transferred to hospital in Edinburgh.
She is battling hard and Catrina said the NHS staff had been amazing as she and other family members remain positive over Erin’s condition.
And although spending time in hospital over Christmas is far from ideal, Catrina insisted her daughter would not be alone.
She said: “Some days Erin is very tired and lethargic but other days she can be bouncing around.
“Days like that give us a lot of hope for the future.
“Our long term goal is that by next summer she will be well enough to begin playgroup in Wormit.
“That’s what we are focusing on right now.
“She will be in hospital in Edinburgh over Christmas and we and her older sister Neave, four, will be with her.”
Meanwhile, a group of childminders in and around Wormit, including Erin’s, Anthea Davie and Jennifer McRitchie, have began campaigning to collect toys for children in ward 29 at Ninewells as a direct result of Erin’s diagnoses.
Anthea said: “We take our health and that of our children often for granted.
“Erin’s diagnoses has also brought home the fact that some children will be in hospital over the festive period.
“We thought we would ask parents to buy an extra gift whilst out Christmas shopping and these will be handed into ward 29 in time for Christmas.”
Drop off points are at Wormit Playgroup and the Rio Centre in Newport.
Catrina said: “I’m happy to support what the playgroup and the child minders are doing.
“I am also hoping , with their support, to begin a blood drive, to encourage blood to donate to the hospital.”