Trip of hope ends in heartbreak for young cancer patient Leah Powell
A YOUNG cancer patient has had to return from America after tests found that the disease had spread.
Twelve-year-old Leah Powell, from Nab Hill Avenue, Leek, had flown to the U.S. to undergo pioneering treatment last week.
But before she had chance to undergo the Proton Beam Therapy in Oklahoma, she was told doctors had found further tumours.
The brave youngster is now on her way back to the UK to receive further treatment at Manchester Children's Hospital.
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A family friend, who asked not to be named, said: "Unfortunately Leah cannot have the treatment as they have actually discovered more tumours.
"They are coming home and are due back into the country this morning."
Leah had been due to receive an eight-week course of proton treatment, which is not yet available in the UK.
It was due to finish just before Christmas.
However, the treatment was cancelled after a scan on Monday at the medical centre revealed the additional tumours.
The family friend added: "They can't proceed with the proton treatment because of this.
"We are unsure at this time whether she will need to return to the U.S.
"I am totally in the dark until they return home and we can discuss what treatment she will need."
Leah was diagnosed with a rare form of tissue cancer in June.
She had undergone regular sessions of chemotherapy in an attempt to reduce the size of a tumour in her right arm.
The St Edward's Junior High School pupil flew to the U.S. with her mother Jane, 22-year-old sister Danielle and baby brother Marek.
Jane, aged 41, who owns the Over the Rainbow toy store in Derby Street, Leek spoke of her daughter's strength ahead of the trip.
She said: "Leah has remained very positive since the diagnosis. "She can have her down days but she has a lot of inner strength and it has kept me going.
"We have met so many parents in the same situation during the previous treatment and it is a relief to find other people who are going through it."
Proton beam treatment is a precise form of radiotherapy that uses charged particles instead of X-rays.
And while it is not yet available in this country its use has been sanctioned for use at the University College Hospital, in London, and at Christies Hospital, Manchester, from 2017.
Before travelling to the States, Leah said: "I have a good support network around me and I am feeling quite positive.
"I am glad that my family are travelling with me and I will have time to spend with them as well."
Leah's treatment and the family's flights and accommodation were being paid for by the NHS.
The family has also taken part in fundraising events to support a children's ward in Manchester, where Leah was treated.
Along with friends they took part in a name the bear competition and cake stalls to raise money.