Seven-year-old Indeg Roberts was sick for months and began losing weight with what was believed to be flu before doctors found the cancerous growth
Image: Make-A-Wish UK)
A mum thought her daughter had flu before doctors found she was suffering from a rare brain tumor.
Seven-year-old Indeg Roberts was sick for months and began losing weight before doctors found the cancerous growth.
Her mum Ceri of Gwynedd, Wakles was worried about her daughter’s symptoms but never thought they would be caused by brain tumor.
She had spoken with doctors and initially reckoned the illness was flu.
Ceri told NorthWalesLive : “She had been vomiting on-and-off for a while but we just thought it was the flu at first, we had spoken to the doctors over the phone and they thought it could be lots of different things, like stomach problems, or anxiety because of the pandemic.
“But towards the beginning of November 2020, Indeg started to go off her food and was losing weight rapidly. I took her to the GP and she was referred to the hospital in Bangor, and was taken for a CT scan.
“At that point, I said to the nurse, ‘I know what you’re looking for,’ I knew they were looking for a tumor. Within about an hour we had the results back and that’s when they told us.
“When the doctor said it was a brain tumor, I just fell to my knees and cried and cried – it was like an out of body experience.
“Because of Covid I was on my own, so I had to ring Indeg’s dad and tell him, which was horrible.”
Indeg was diagnosed with a cancer called Ependymoma – which is diagnosed in around 30 children every year in the UK.
After receiving the devastating diagnosis, she was transferred to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where she underwent a nine-hour operation to remove the tumor.
What followed was a grueling treatment regimen, which saw Indeg undergo radiotherapy, and five rounds of chemotherapy.
In December 2020, she received proton beam therapy, but this meant that, rather than enjoying the usual magic and wonder of the festive season, Indeg spent Christmas at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.
Ceri said: “We moved to Manchester for two months while she had the treatment, we’d never been away from her sisters before, and we were a long way from home. It was very upsetting to be away at Christmas, and Indeg was so poorly – though I think she coped better than I did.”
Ceri says Indeg and her three sisters who are aged five, 10, and 13, have “all had to grow up quickly” since the diagnosis.
She said: “It was absolutely heartbreaking that we were so far away from each other, looking back I actually don’t know how we did it, I don’t know how we coped.”
Following her grievous order, Make-A-Wish UK, a charity which helps bring joy to children battling critical illnesses and their families, got in touch. The Roberts family was contacted by the charity earlier this year, to ask what Indeg would like to wish for.
It didn’t take long for Indeg to decide how to spend her wish, according to mum Ceri.
She said: “Even during five cycles of chemotherapy, Indeg would ask to go to the park whenever we could.
“Playing outside and using the climbing frame really got her through those dark times. It’s one of the first things she said when we told her about the wish, she made her mind up that’s what she wanted very quickly.”
Jason Suckley, chief executive at Make-A-Wish UK, said: “When a child like Indeg is diagnosed with a critical condition, the joy of childhood is brought to an abrupt end with treatment plans, appointments and worry taking over.
“The power of a wish – in this case, a climbing frame – revives a childhood stolen by critical illness, by giving Indeg and her sisters a place to simply be children again.”
In February, Make-A-Wish UK granted Indeg’s wish for a climbing frame, which was custom-built and delivered the family’s Gwynedd home.
Indeg and her sisters now spend as much time as possible playing together on their climbing frame, before school and into the evenings.
Ceri said: “When I look out the window and see Indeg and her sisters enjoying themselves out in the garden, after everything they’ve been through, I can’t put into words. It’s the best feeling – it just means the world.”
The treatment for Indeg’s cancer was a success, but she will continue to have routine scans every few months for the next five years to make sure she’s cancer-free.
And although things are looking positive, Ceri said she’ll always worry about her daughter.
She said: “I’ll always worry about her, whenever she mentions a headache I panic, and the fear of it coming back is horrible, but I know that we’ve done everything we can.
“She’s so strong and determined despite everything she’s been through, and we’re very grateful to Make-A-Wish UK for helping her wish come true.”
There are currently 39 children in Wales, waiting for their wishes to be granted.
Make-A-Wish UK say they need to raise £97,500 to clear the ‘Wish Map’ in Wales by World Wish Day on April 29.
If you would like to donate visit https://www.make-a-wish.org.uk/wales