Family launch treatment appeal as little Isabelle fights rare brain tumour

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Isabelle Revill
Jemma Revill with daughter Isabelle (1) in hospital

A FAMILY has set up a fundraising appeal to pay for specialist treatment for their one-year-old daughter who has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumour.

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Lee and Jemma Revill, from Christchurch, were given the devastating news last month after Isabelle, who was born in May 2018, was rushed to Southampton General Hospital.

The emergency trip followed months of visits to various health care providers due to her unexplained illnesses, which included vomiting, ear infections, and a general lack of zest for life.

The couple, who also have four sons aged from seven to 14, were told the rare form of cancer, known as supertentorier anaplastic ependymoma, had caused an 11cm tumour which covered one third of Isabelle’s brain.

Although radiotherapy is usually the preferred treatment, the area that needs exposing is large and if done so young could cost Isabelle any quality of life.

Doctors have begun a 14-month cycle of chemotherapy to try to halt the disease but in the long term Isabelle will need proton beam therapy.

Isabelle Revill
Lee and Jemma Revill with Isabelle

The family do not yet know if this will be funded by the NHS, as it is decided case by case and not readily available to those under three, so they have set up a webpage to raise £250,000 to get her the treatment privately.

If she ends up being funded by the NHS, the family said that any money raised will be passed on to other charities and worthy causes.

Jemma (34) has also set up a blog on a Facebook page named Superhero Isabelle to keep friends and family updated on progress.

She wrote: “On my birthday (17th July) I had what can only be described as a mother’s instinct. I walked in to check on our baby girl and I was hit by a wave telling every bone in my body we had to go to hospital. I wasn’t entirely sure why, I just knew my little girl was not okay.”

The following day after an MRI scan doctors broke the news that they had found a brain tumour.

Jemma added: “We were told it was large and that she probably wasn’t going to make it for long after surgery and that we should enjoy every moment with her.

“She was kept in a medically induced coma following a craniotomy that lasted seven hours. Belle spent just under 48 hours in paediatric intensive care. They had to use double strength drugs to keep her asleep, she had three blood transfusions and has a cannula in just about every vein possible.”

The family were then told that the tumour had been removed entirely.

Jemma said: “Although this was great news the cells that caused the cancer are still there so she will need ongoing treatment.

“We now have a team to discuss treatment options, we now have hope, we now have to fight and deal with the reality that our baby girl has cancer.”

Lee, who recently retired from the army following 23 years’ service, was due to celebrate his 40th birthday with a big party. But he was instead in hospital with Jemma receiving the results of Isabelle’s lumbar puncture, which doctors explained showed that thankfully the disease had not spread.

Jemma said: “Every day you go through the same emotions – it’s like a fresh punch to the deepest, most sensitive part of your soul all over again.

“Yet I look at her and she’s absolutely phenomenal. She’s been through so much and just keeps going. She’s learnt to do everything she could do before and more. She is my absolute hero.”

Friends of the couple are planning to hold a fundraising event named Belle’s Ball and are asking for donations from venues, bands, food stalls and entertainers to help make it a success.

To help email superheroisabelle@gmail.com.

To donate to the fundraising campaign search ‘Superhero Isabelle’ on Facebook or visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/superhero-Isabelle.

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