After countless rounds of chemotherapy, hours spent on the operating table, fundraising appeals and birthdays spent in cancer wards, there it was in black and white; ‘the procedure was a success’.
Two months after facing a race against time to raise more than £300,000 for lifesaving neuroblastoma treatment in New York, the 15-year-old returned home to Craiglockhart with just one goal in mind: getting back to a “normal life”.
The teenager revealed she was in “a total daze” when doctors at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) unveiled scans showing the near seven-hour surgery had been successful, admitting she didn’t know how to react.
“I don’t even remember the moment he told me I had the all-clear. I was just in a total daze at that point.”
“I’d had three of these surgeries before, so I knew exactly what was coming and what the aftermath would be.
“There were maybe a few little nerves before, because it is still an operation, but the surgeon made me comfortable and I believed that he could do it.”
Kira continued: “It was only the next day after I had rested for a while when my mum came in and told me again that I actually believed it.”
She laughed “I just smiled, I didn’t really know what else to do.”
Firrhill High School pupil Kira was diagnosed with the condition – a rare and aggressive form of cancer which attacks the nerve cells – at the age of 11 after complaining of abdominal pain. She had previously been through three operations in the UK.
After going into remission, tests last year revealed the disease had returned, requiring five further months of chemotherapy, after which doctors were forced to break the agonising news that there was nothing else they could do.
But after hearing about the pioneering work of surgeons at the MSKCC, mum Aud was determined that they were the right people to help.
“They came out of the surgery and I walked into a room with the doctor, who just sat me down, looked me right in the eyes and said ‘She’s absolutely fine,’” Aud recalled.
“He went on to say that he had got the whole tumour out. It was a mixture of feelings. I wasn’t surprised, but at the same time, it was music to my ears.
“Seeing the scans, actually seeing it written down that the cancer is gone, it is proof.”
She added: “It’s just absolutely fantastic and the whole family are ecstatic.”
The family were given just four weeks to raise the full £340,000 needed to pay for the treatment before the May 10 deadline, a seemingly impossible task.
But Kira’s heartbreaking appeal inspired hundreds across the Capital and beyond to dig deep and give her a chance.
Community auctions and bucket collections sprang up across the city, local residents stepped up to take on fundraising challenges and back at Firrhill, Kira’s friends and fellow pupils organised special fundraising days.
By May 6, just four days before the deadline, the magic number had been reached and the first bump on the road to recovery had been overcome.
Kira revealed she was following the fundraising effort, adding: “I’ve seen all the people posting and sharing my story on Facebook and it was just amazing to see.
“I was so thankful, the way everybody just got together and we all worked as a team to make it happen was incredible.”
She added: “It was really emotional to see the amount of support I had from home.”
Kira now faces the start of what is hopefully her last round of chemo at the Sick Kids Hospital on Monday, but Aud said they now want to return to New York for their “dream family holiday,” admitting the Big Apple will always hold a special place in their heart.
“When we reach full remission, we can start thinking properly about the future. We would love to go back to New York as a four, it is our good luck charm and I could actually feel magic in the city when we visited it.”
She added: “It is doubly magic now for all of us.”
However, Kira admitted she was looking forward to going back to normal and admitted was shocked to receive a hero’s welcome at the Evening News Local Hero awards on Friday, where she was victorious in the ‘Child of Achievement’ category.
She said: “Obviously I have a little bit more treatment to go over the summer, but if that all goes well, then maybe I can think about going back to school in September.”
Smiling, Kira finished: “At the moment I’m just excited about having the chance to go back to a normal life.”