According to a story from mirror.co.uk, Vanessa Riddle, who had the rare cancer neuroblastoma, recently died after defying her cancer for almost a decade. She passed on June 1st, with her parents Chris and Connie and sister Olivia at her side. Her case first gained media attention six years previous when the Daily Record called attention to a fundraising campaign started by her family that would allow her to travel to the U.S. for a treatment that was not available in the UK.
Neuroblastoma is a type of rare cancer that occurs in nerve tissue. It is commonly diagnosed in children under age five, and typically originates in the adrenal glands. However, it can appear on the spine, chest, abdomen, and neck. The cause of neuroblastoma is poorly understood; a small percentage are inherited thanks to genetic mutations. Environmental risk factors have not been decisively identified. Symptoms of neuroblastoma include bone pain, a painless, blue lump under the skin, and a lump appearing in the affected area. The cancer has often begun to spread when it is discovered. Survival largely depends on the severity of disease when it is discovered; generally people who are diagnosed later fare more poorly. To learn more about neuroblastoma, click here.
Vanessa was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2009. She underwent intense treatment and achieved remission in August of 2010. Unfortunately, the cancer had returned by late 2011, and doctors said that her chances of survival were slim. Her parents would have to raise £500,000 in order to obtain a special treatment that had a chance to help her. Publicity helped the cause and helped the family well exceed their goal.
She eventually received a stem cell transplant with donor cells from her mother, and the treatment once again appeared to have worked. She was in remission as of January 2013. Vanessa was able to attend school regularly again for several years until the cancer returned again a few months ago. Having exhausted all treatment options, there was nothing left that could have saved her.
After announcing the death on his Facebook page, Chris’s post was flooded with condolences from people who had been following Vanessa’s life from around the world.