A little girl with an aggressive form of cancer who had been due to travel to the US for clinical trials has suffered a setback after the disease stopped responding to treatment.
Grace Kenneally (9) has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy since the age of five in her battle against Neuroblastoma.
Her mother Ethna had hoped to bring her to the US for clinical trials but that has now been delayed after they received the devastating news last week that Grace was not responding to treatment.
The family must now decide whether to give permission for Grace to undergo a gruelling stem cell transplant.
"It involves high-dose chemo to kill cancer but it also kills the bone marrow as a side effect. So she needs a transplant of her own stem cells which were harvested earlier to kickstart her bone marrow into producing blood again," explained her mum Ethna.
The treatment is particularly dangerous for Grace as she suffered liver failure last year as a result of her treatment.
"Grace has a higher risk of dying on it than other children due to her liver failure last year. It's a very difficult decision to proceed but the cancer has spread and our doctor says the sledgehammer approach is required," added her mum.
The procedure would force Grace to remain in isolation for between six and 12 weeks due to the very high infection risk. During this time only one or two chosen people could have contact with her.
Her family are continuing with their fundraising drive to raise cash for Grace's ongoing treatment.
They still hope to bring the schoolgirl to the US for the clinical trials, which have shown positive outcomes for a number of other children.
Grace's charity, Saving Grace, has been chosen as one of six recognised charities for the upcoming Connemarathon in April.
Her family are urging runners from all over the country to take part in the race for Grace.
"Grace should really be in remission first before going to America.
The trial gives blocker drugs to stop the cancer coming back and it's been very successful but she needs to get through this stage first.
"We have a target of €250,000. We set up the trust last July and we've managed to raise €140,000 with a lot of hard work," said Grace's aunt Katherine.
"Now we just want to keep that up so we want runners from all over the country to help."
Anyone who wished to run the Connemarathon in aid of Grace can register at www.iregister.ie/connemarathonforsavinggrace