When schoolgirl Georgia Mladenovic started to get persistent headaches, little did her family realise it was the start of a life-threatening illness.
It turned out that 15-year-old Georgia, a student at Hodgson Academy in Poulton, had a brain tumour that needed surgery, but because of exactly how it had grown, conventional surgery to remove it didn’t work out and it started to grow again.
She is now having to travel to Jacksonville in Florida, America, for a completely different sort of treatment currently unavailable in this county – proton beam therapy.
This treatment, which it is expected will become available at The Christie Hospital, Manchester, at the end of this year, is potentially life-saving.
The good news is that the NHS will pay for the treatment, the travel costs and accommodation, which otherwise would have proved too overwhelmingly expensive.
But because Georgia and her mum, Sarah Cause, are likely to be in America for up to three months and fly out tomorrow, they also desperately need funds to cover living costs.
So an online gofundme campaign is under way to help.
The fund has already received generous support, including help from Georgia’s high school, where the staff and students held a special fund-raising ‘green clothing day’.
The school even sent a letter out to parents and so far the fund has reached more than £6,000.
But more funds are still needed.
Sarah, 38, who lives in Great Eccleston with her partner Martin Lord, their daughter Charlie, three, six-month-old Benjamin and Georgia, said: “It was obviously terrible when we got the news but the support we’ve had from family, friends and complete strangers has been really wonderful – we’re so grateful
“What also helped was the staff at Christie Hospital and Manchester Children’s Hospital – they acted so quickly.
“It has been difficult for Georgia, and she’s got behind with her school work, with a big year coming up for her next year.
“But she’s been an absolute trooper all the way through it.”
Georgia was sent for MRI scans last October because she’d had persistent headaches for about a year.
Sarah continued: “We were sent to see a neurosurgeon at Manchester Children’s Hospital and by the end of that week she was having surgery at Christie Hospital to get a biopsy of the tumour and remove what they could.
“But due to where the tumour is located it has nerves running through it and the surgeons could not fully remove it.
“Georgia recovered really well and the biopsy they took came back as a grade 1 glioneuronal tumour so her oncologist and neurosurgeon were happy for her to have no further treatment and to monitor with regular scans.
“But unfortunately her first surveillance scan in January showed the tumour had grown and she has been suffering with headaches again
“So her oncologist has decided the best treatment for her would be proton beam therapy and for this we would be sent to Florida.”
Sarah says that the generous response to the fund means Martin and the two younger children will be able to join them in April.
Among those who have joined in fund-raising was Georgia’s dad, Phil Mladenovic, who lives in Blackpool.
At Hodgson Academy, Christine Baran, applied learning and LRC officer, said: “The school is keen to help the family at this difficult time.
“Students have been involved in lots of fund raising activities and they chose a day to wear green, one of Georgia’s favourite colours, and make a donation to the fundme page created by Georgia’s family.
“We have also sent letters out to parents telling them about it.”
Anyone who wants to donate can visit: http://www.gofundme.com/hck9j8-help-georgia