Scottish girl diagnosed with terminal tumour just days after seventh birthday

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.
Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.
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A little girl was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

Laia Jenkins had been struggling with her balance, walking into doors and walking on tiptoes, but her parents thought her behaviour might be psychological, after she was devastated by the death of her two pet rabbits.

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

The schoolgirl, who is the baby of the family, was taken to Wishaw General Hospital by her parents Lee, 43, and Lorna, 39, at the end of August.

Medics thought she probably had an ear infection and recommended taking her to the GP.

Laia celebrated her seventh birthday on September 6, with a party in the garden of the family's home in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, and she was given a 'saucer' swing - which she has never had the chance to use.

'Watching our wee lassie getting worse'

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

But only four days later, when her condition had deteriorated rapidly, she was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where an MRI scan showed she had a high grade brain tumour.

The tumour is inside Laia's brain, on the brain stem, and with treatment she has between nine months and a year to live.

Lee said: "We are still trying to come to terms with it, trying to understand it, watching our wee lassie getting worse.

"After the radiotherapy she might get better for a while as well. We've been told with treatment it will be about 12 months, without treatment it will be between three to six months.

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

Laia Jenkins was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour just four days after celebrating her seventh birthday.

"We've been through panic, anger and helplessness.

"She kept banging into doors and her balance was off so we took her to A&E. They said it was probably an ear infection.

"She'd started walking on her tiptoes, the way she was walking wasn't normal.

'She didn't seem herself'

"We went to the GP, I thought it was psychological.

"One rabbit had died, then the other died, so we thought she was missing her rabbits.

"She didn't seem herself.

"We had a party for her in the garden, she got a saucer swing for her birthday but she's not been able to use it.

"It's still sitting there.

"The party feels like a lifetime ago.

"We took her to hospital again and they did some tests, getting her to do a high five with one hand, then the other, then the same with kicks, and it was clear it was down one side.

"Then they told us it was a brain tumour."

Laia was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumour, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) on September 10, and begins radiotherapy on October 1.

The family has begun fundraising to pay for a 'bucket list' of special treats to enjoy their time together, including a trip to Disney World in America, so Laia and her siblings Ellie, 12, Chloe, 21, and Shannon, 23, can have a holiday together.

Maintaining normality

Laia is desperate to go back to school and ride her bike, and her family are trying to maintain normality.

Lee said: "We need to keep faith and believe in a miracle.

"It is a constant battle trying to keep things normal.

"She's more concerned about other people being upset.

"She's worried about me dying, and what she's going to do.

"She told my dad 'I don't want people to be sad if I die'.

"She's still smiling, her character is still there.

"She's just turned seven, so she's still a baby but she wants to be a big girl.

"It might sound terrible but in a way you can trick them into thinking everything is fine, and you can't do that when they're a bit older."

Lee added: "However long she's going to live, we are going to make sure everything is as normal and happy as possible.

"For her, everything is fine. She knows she's got a lump in her head.

"I want to keep believing that she's going to be back on her bike, and back at school.

"I need that hope, and if the radiotherapy works maybe she can go back to school."

Radiotherapy treatment should shrink the tumour, reducing the symptoms, but will not save the little girl.Lee said: "It is unbelievable, we are just in survival mode."