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Family joy as doctors offer hope for Megan.

Byline: By Amanda Crook Health Correspondent

Brave little Megan Armstrong has something to smile about - at long last.

The three-year-old has undergone two years of gruelling treatment to try to shrink an enormous tumour in her brain.

Last year Megan had become so weak from chemotherapy that doctors could not continue with the treatment.

They told her devastated parents that a course of radiotherapy was her last hope.

But this week Dr Andy Pearson, professor in paediatric oncology at Newcastle General Hospital, finally had some good news for the family. Scans show her tumour has shrunk for the second time in three months.

Now the family will be celebrating the good news at EuroDisney in Paris later this month, thanks to the Make a Wish Foundation.

Her parents Sandra Prosser and Philip Armstrong, who are expecting a new baby - due on New Year's Day - are relieved and delighted about Megan's improvement.

Philip, from Prudhoe, Northumberland, said: "It's really excellent news, we are over the moon.

"Dr Pearson told us that the tumour has shrunk in all directions - it is considerably smaller. There's a long way still to go and Megan will have to continue to go for scans every three months but it's a step in the right direction.

"This news means we can really enjoy the trip to Paris. We have been trying to make Megan's life as happy as we possibly can, taking each day at a time for so long now but this news means we can start to think about the future again."

Megan, who is now enjoying nursery school, is waiting for an appointment to see a child hormone specialist who will begin to plan which drugs she will need to counteract the effect of the tumour putting pressure on sensitive parts of her brain.

The radiotherapy treatment which has been such a success so far was a risky option not normally recommended for children so young.

Five days a week Megan had to undergo a general anaesthetic so that she would lie still during the treatment and a mask was fitted to her face to try to protect her brain.

Carole Pallant, of the Make A Wish Foundation, said: "The foundation exists to make dreams come true for children aged between three and 18 years old who have life- threatening illnesses.

"We are delighted to grant Megan's wish and look forward to speaking to her about it when she gets back."

Philip said all the family were excited about the trip. "We really do have so much to look forward to," he said. "The trip to Paris sounds amazing - we will be given star treatment. Make a Wish have organised a special breakfast with all the cartoon characters just for Megan.

"We are all very excited about the new baby, too. It is something we put off when Megan was desperately ill but the time feels right now."

* Anyone who wants to find out more about the Make a Wish Foundation or support the charity can contact regional manager Syd White on (0191) 265-6996.
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 11, 2003
Words:510
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