Amelia Brome from near Preston Lancashire was a happy child who loved riding her bicycle and went swimming 3-4 times a week. But towards the end of 2016 she developed a cold, which she could not shake off. Her GP prescribed antibiotics for sinusitis but Amelia’s symptoms did not improve and she began having severe headaches each morning that cleared by the end of each day.
Amelia’s mother, Cheryl, became worried and took her to Preston Hospital, where she was again told Amelia had sinusitis and was referred back to her GP. A new GP noticed that Amelia’s eye was partially closed and told her to return two days later if it had not improved. By then Amelia’s eye was completely closed.
The GP immediately sent her to Preston Hospital where she was given an MRI and later that same day, Michael and Cheryl were given the devastating news that the MRI scan had identified a sizeable mass in Amelia’s nasal cavity. A bed had already been organised for her at Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Shock and relief
Father Michael said: “It was a total bombshell. In one way it was a relief because we had waited so long to find out what was wrong with Amelia, but then the realisation of how serious it was hits you like a ton of bricks. It is a very difficult feeling to describe.”
A biopsy was taken in the following days and then the family had to wait 10 days until mid February when their consultants at Manchester Children’s Hospital told them that Amelia had a nasal rhabdomyosarcoma (an uncommon soft-tissue sarcoma) and that clinicians were preparing to treat her with chemotherapy.
Michael said: “We were almost elated, because at least they knew what it was. The worst nightmare would have been if they did not know what it was, or how to treat it.”
Amelia’s parents were told that their only child’s tumour was inoperable and there was danger of damage to nearby tissues with conventional radiotherapy. A month later the family was referred to The Christie, thinking that they would be discussing a chemotherapy and radiation programme, but were astonished to be told to organise their passports because Amelia was suitable for proton beam therapy (PBT) and would be flying out to the USA shortly.
PBT offered her the best chance of living a normal life and her consultant at The Christie, Dr Rovel Colaco, recommended she receive it in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
Amelia – a pupil at Harris Primary School, Fulwood, Preston - and her mother flew out to Jacksonville at the beginning of April, 2017 but Michael had to wait another week as he was twice refused a US visa and only succeeded in being granted one by engaging the support of his local MP.
Chance of full recovery
Amelia had 30 sessions of PBT in Jacksonville, Monday to Friday. The family returned to the UK at the beginning of July 2017. They have since been told Amelia has an excellent chance of making a full recovery.
Her parents have nothing but praise and gratitude to the NHS for flying them out to the US for Amelia’s PBT treatment.
Michael says: “The treatment we had in the USA was brilliant and the staff were great, but lovely as it was, you are 8,000 miles away from home and your support networks. It’s a massive upheaval for the whole family.”
Amelia’s consultant at the Christie, Dr Rovel Colaco said: “Amelia is a bright and happy child with an excellent chance of recovery following the treatment she received in Jacksonville. However in the future, patients like Amelia can look forward to the opportunity of having PBT here in the UK closer to their friends and family and with less upheaval during a very stressful time in their lives.”