In February 2009, aged 8, Vanessa was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma. Vanessa has undergone many different treatments at Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow. These include 12 rounds of high dose chemotherapy, two seven hour long surgical operations, the removal of one of her kidneys, a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy, retinoic acid treatment and Immunotherapy treatment. Vanessa finished her treatment in August 2010 and was given the all clear.
In December 2011 after routine scans, we were given the devastating news that Vanessa had relapsed. She had neuroblastoma ’hotspots’ on her skull, neck, spine, leg and knees. The UK doctors told us that Vanessa's prognosis was very poor: “much less than 10%”, as there are no relapse protocols in the UK.
We immediately launched a fundraising appeal for Vanessa’s treatment costs with the Neuroblastoma Alliance UK, as we knew that her treatment would have to take place abroad and that the costs would not be funded by the NHS. We started researching and contacted different hospitals in America and Germany to explore potential treatment options for Vanessa.
Following further tests and consultations with hospitals in America and Germany, we have decided to take Vanessa to Tübingen, Germany, for a Haploidentical Stem Cell transplant. Following a detailed consultation, Vanessa was found to be a good candidate for the treatment which has shown very promising results [ref http://www.nbglobe.com/2012/02/27/tubingen-2012-neuroblastoma-symposium-from-bench-to-bedside/]. Vanessa hopes to leave Scotland and to start her treatment in Germany, the second week in August. It is anticipated that the whole cycle of treatment will take 9 months, and will dramatically increase her chances of long term survival.
All the funds raised to date for the Vanessa Riddle Appeal will be used to cover the Haploidentical Stem Cell transplant treatment and associated costs. Any money left over will be kept for Vanessa in case she needs more help in the future.
"Words simply cannot express how grateful we are to the kind hearted people who have helped us get to where we are today. From facing a very uncertain future with such a desperately poor prognosis, we are now able to look to the future with optimism.
Everyone who donated to Vanessa’s Appeal has given us so much more than the money that now makes our daughter’s treatment in Germany a reality. You have given us hope. And for this we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Chris & Connie Riddle