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‘She’s our little Princess Grace’ family says of brave little girl

NewsBy Jim Gallagher
Brave little Grace
Brave little Grace

Her family believes she is the bravest little girl in the world.

Grace Kenneally will celebrate her 10th birthday on June 3, a poignant milestone after being diagnosed five years ago with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of child cancer.

And the Galway youngster is planning a party which will mark the end of 100 days of isolation she is currently going through following a life-saving stem cell transplant operation in February.

“She has not been able to see any of her friends in case she picks up anything like measles or chicken pox,” said her aunt Katherine.

“After the operation the only person who could visit her in Crumlin Children’s Hospital for the first six weeks was her mum.

 “That was the hardest part of all, but Grace is brilliant and is always so positive. She is a fantastic little girl.”

Katherine said Grace, who has already had three relapses of the killer disease, which is no longer responding to chemotherapy, now has only a four per cent chance of survival in Ireland and needs to travel abroad for innovative clinical treatment.

America has specialist centres of excellence dealing with the disease, such as in New York and Philadelphia.

“We have been reading about one hospital where there is an 80 per cent survival rate,” said Katherine, who last year helped to set up a fundraising campaign called Saving Grace to pay for future medical expenses.

So far the appeal has raised €200,000 of the €250,000 target, but the organisers are thinking it might not be enough.

“Some of these new drugs are incredibly expensive. One person had treatment which cost $750,000.

“All we can do is keep fundraising. The money will never go to waste as it would go to Crumlin Children’s Hospital or Barretstown, where Grace has been on holiday and which she absolutely loves.

“But Grace is too sick to travel anywhere at the moment. She could not get on a plane because of the germs. The oncologists will decide over the next few weeks what the next step should be.”

Grace was given just two weeks to live in April last year after suffering a setback, but miraculously pulled through.

It was a terrifying time for Grace’s single mother Ethna.

“It has been horrendous for her. To be told your little girl will never have children is so heartbreaking,” said Katherine. “Grace has been through so much, but she has great spirit and fought on.”

l Donations can be made to Grace’s appeal at www.savinggrace.ie.