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Robyn makes history with ground-breaking US cancer treatment

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Robyn Smyth (left) and sister Millie at Dublin Airport.

Robyn Smyth (left) and sister Millie at Dublin Airport.

Robyn Smyth (left) and sister Millie at Dublin Airport.

A Dublin teenager has become the first Irish person to undergo a ground-breaking cancer treatment in the US.

Robyn Smyth (14), from Whitehall, has been fighting the aggressive cancer neuroblastoma for 11 years and her story has been covered in the Herald since 2009.

She has now received one of seven vaccines at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.

She had to return home from the US last month after having to postpone starting the new vaccine as she was not strong enough.

Her mum, Bernadette, who is currently in New York, said: "Robyn has received her first vaccine. We're hoping and praying this is the one, the one that finally keeps her cancer-free after all these years.

Vaccine

"We had a very long day while they made up the vaccine.

"The shot itself only took seconds, it was very painful for Robyn, but within minutes the pain subsided.

"There are seven vaccines over the next year, but the first three will be done close together, so we'll be remaining here until the end of the month.

"We're hoping this helps to keep neuroblastoma out of our lives. I've seen how tough Robyn is over the years - if anyone can make it, she can. It just doesn't seem fair that 11 of the 14 years Robyn has been with us, she has put up with so much.

"This has been my family's way of life for so long now, but we will continue to be there for her, no matter what."

Mum-of-two Bernadette also said they were hoping to secure further appointments to learn how Robyn's body has been affected by previous treatments over the years.

"We know she's teeny for her age and has some other problems, but hopefully nothing she can't live with," she said.

"I just want to thank everyone who has never given up on her."

The family are currently staying at a house run by the Ronald McDonald House Charities, close to the Sloan Kettering Centre.

Deteriorate

Last June, Bernadette made an emotional appeal for help as her attempts to raise €326,000 for Robyn's medical treatment were failing.

Not having enough money to pay for the treatment following two good scans at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Michigan, where Robyn had been receiving treatment since 2015, meant her health had begun to deteriorate.

Bernadette's fundraising had stalled at €70,000, but following her appeal, Erin McGregor, the sister of MMA fighter Conor, started a floss dance challenge in a bid to help save Robyn's life, and thousands of euro were donated.

It was when Robyn's chances of survival dropped to 5pc three years ago that the family decided to raise funds to take her to the US.

In between her visits - she has clocked up more than 80 flights since 2015 - Robyn continues to take chemotherapy tablets and has blood tests and other related treatment at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.

Donations can be made at robynslife@live.com, idonate.ie/robynslife and gofundme.com/robynslife.


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