The parents of a child given less than a year to live have made a desperate plea for help to raise £350,000 to fund life-prolonging treatment abroad.

Lily Jha, from Gosforth, Newcastle, was diagnosed with a rare incurable brain tumour in July, aged just seven.

Doctors told the devastated parents, Vineet, 39, and Jing, 38, Lily was likely to have less than a year to live and that they should to focus on “making memories”.

Instead the parents launched a global search for a pioneering treatment, finding clinical trials in America and Europe that could give Lily, who recently turned eight,  five more years of life.

For the trial to have a chance of working, Lily must begin the new treatment within three months of her last palliative radiotherapy session on September 21.

That means the family have until early December to get her on a clinical trial, and just weeks to raise £350,000 to cover the cost.

Dad Vineet said: “When Lily was diagnosed, my first thought was, why her and not me?  I wake up every day hoping it was a nightmare.

“Lily loves the Matilda song, ‘When I grow up…’ and when she hums it, it’s almost unbearable.

“She’s just a little girl. The NHS told us to go and make memories, but we want her to be more than a memory.

“She wants to dance and sing and play with her little sister. Lily is so excited to see Mia start school next year.

“We know trials are experimental, but it’s through trials that new treatments are found. We want to give our little girl the best possible chance.

“Our friends and the community have been fantastic and done so much to raise money for Lily, but we’re running out of time now.

“We need help. If anyone can donate any amount of money to help fund Lily’s treatment, it would mean everything to us.”

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Lily’s parents first noticed changes in her behaviour in July, when the normally happy little girl became angry, frustrated and irritable.

At first they and their GP thought the changes could be down to lockdown, but when Lily became unable to walk in a straight line, her parents rushed her to A&E.

At Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, Lily’s MRI scan revealed she had a tumour known as a “diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma” – a rare and fast developing tumour that affects mobility, heartrate and breathing.

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Vineet said: “At first Lily started behaving a bit differently - a bit more childish, a bit angry, not responding to things, she would just ignore us.

“We thought it could be due to lockdown and when we spoke to a GP we were told there was nothing to be concerned about.

“One day in the park I noticed she was finding it difficult to walk in a straight line. We went to A&E right away. We never imagined it could be incurable cancer.  

“It was like a nightmare. We didn’t tell anyone at first. I just kept thinking ‘how can this be real?’”
While the family are full of praise for the NHS staff who treated Lily, Vineet says he and wife Jing have found the lack of guidance or support to find clinical trials difficult.

He said: “Neither of us are doctors but we’re having to make an assessment on which trial is going to be best for Lily.

“It feels like we’re fighting on so many fronts”.

To donate to Lily click here