The Sneddons thought four-year-old Mila had the cold or some other minor condition when they took her to the GP on Tuesday, November 19.
Mila had just been attending nursery at Stenhousemuir Primary School as usual.
Mum Lynda said: “She was tired and a wee bit pale. I thought she might be a little anaemic. The GP did the standard checks and wanted to look at some bruising on the lower half of her legs.
“She had a feel of her tummy and identified quite quickly Mila’s spleen was enlarged.”
Things moved quickly after that as the GP referred the Sneddons to Forth Valley Royal Hospital for blood tests.
“I still thought it was probably just a case of her being anaemic and they wanted to do some blood tests in the hospital rather than at the GP’s,” said Lynda.
Then when the tests came back the doctors told Lynda and husband Scott that it was likely to be acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a rare type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment.
“It was the worst case scenario,” said Lynda. “I don’t think you could have anything worse.”
Mila was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow the following day for tests to her bone marrow and the diagnosis was confirmed.
“Within a couple of hours they already had a whole treatment plan for her,” said Lynda.
Mila, who has never been back home since her diagnosis, is currently receiving intensive chemotherapy treatment to kill off all the leukaemia cells in her body. It is hoped she will be home by Christmas to receive seven months of further treatments as an outpatient. Lynda said: “She had no understanding of what was wrong. All she wants to do is go home and see her black lab Cole – she calls him Mr Cole – and see our carpet. She has slight anxiety about things changing at home.
“She used to be really anxious about nurses and doctors, but now they have even showed her how to administer her own medication to give her some control over things. The staff are unbelievable – we just didn’t expect that level of kindness.
“She may be home for Christmas, she might not, but whatever happens Christmas will happen for her.”
All going well the Sneddons hope Mila, who probably won’t be able to go back to nursery, will be able to start P1 at Stenhousemuir Primary School with her friends in August. Both Lynda and Scott work full time jobs and they have been having to ‘tag team’ at the moment to go into the Queen Elizabeth, so Mila has a parent with her all the time. The couple know things may get a little financially difficult when Mila comes home for the next stage of her treatments.
Enter the organisational skills of Mila’s auntie Sarah Currie and the generosity of family and friends from as far afield as the USA.
Sarah set up a Go Fund Me page – which has so far raised over £14,000 – to help Lynda and Scott through this trying time and allow them to concentrate on helping Mila recover.
Under the banner of 500 Miles for Mila, there are plans to take part in a 30 mile hike from Edinburgh to Falkirk on January 4 to raise even more cash.
Mila’s American auntie and uncle, Diane and Viktor, have already clocked an impressive 111 miles in New York’s Central Park and there are more walks planned by relatives in Michigan and in Hereford.
Mila’s great grandparents – who are now in their 80s – have even agreed to step up for the cause.
“People have been so generous and supportive,” said Sarah.
Lynda was full of praise for the GP who initially examined Mila and for all the medical staff who subsequently helped her.
“We’re so positive,” said Lynda. “The nursing staff have commented it’s unusual to have a youngster with ALL who looks as healthy as Mila when they first come in.”
Most of mum’s praise was heaped on Mila’s big sister Jodi (15) who had to sit prelim Higher examinations just days after Mila was diagnosed and taken into hospital.
The teenager, who wants to become a radiographer, has been studying for her exams in between hospital visits to play with Mila.
l Visit www.gofundme.com and search for 500 Miles for Mila for more information and to donate to the cause.