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Isla was anxious about going back to school after losing all her hair. But everyone was so pleased to see her she just pulled her wig off and got on with things.. BRAVE LITTLE GIRLIS BATTLING BACK FROM RARE CONDITION; 10-year-old with big smile is inspiration to others.

Byline: SALLY HIND s.hind@dailyrecord.co.uk

WHEN Isla Aitken complained of a sore back after gymnastics class, her mum thought she had probably pulled a muscle.

But less than two weeks later, the family were given the devastating news she was suffering from a rare form of leukaemia.

Over the last two years, the youngster from Milngavie, near Glasgow, has endured gruelling treatment which made her sick and caused her to lose her hair.

But Isla was determined not to let her illness stop her having fun, attending school, going to gymnastics class and doing all the things she loves throughout her battle.

Today, her family are backing the Schiehallion Appeal - a bid by the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity to bring more clinical trials to Scotland for young cancer and blood disorder patients.

They want to help the charity raise PS500,000 to expand the current trials centre at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow - the only one of its kind in Scotland - so that more children like Isla can beat the disease.

Isla was seven when her shock diagnosis in October 2014 turned life upside down for her, her parents Margaret and Russell and brother Murray, now eight. Margaret, 43, said: "Isla was always perfectly healthy and never off school with so much as a cough or a cold.

"She came home from gymnastics and came out of the bath and said she had a horrific pain in her back. I told her she's likely hurt herself at gymnastics.

"She was crying for hours and wouldn't stop so we took her to hospital."

Doctors initially thought Isla may be suffering from a urine infection and sent her home with antibiotics.

When they had no effect, she returned to hospital where medics prescribed ibuprofen, believing the problem was muscular.

Still in pain a week later, she was referred to hospital again by her doctor where she underwent a series of tests and scans in a bid to diagnose her mystery illness.

Margaret added: "By this time, she was screaming in pain and couldn't settle. She was being given morphine every hour.

"After an MRI scan, they didn't have an answer but saw fluid in her lungs and around the base of her spine. It was suggested she should have a bone marrow test."

Later that day, the family were told the shattering news that Isla had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer which affects white blood cells and is only diagnosed in around 650 people in the UK each year.

She was taken to the Schiehallion ward at Glasgow's former Yorkhill hospital to start treatment the very next day.

Margaret said: "Isla didn't really understand the severity of it, which was a good thing.

"Walking around Schiehallion was surreal, almost like it wasn't happening.

"I remember seeing her name on the board thinking, 'Isla's name shouldn't be up there.' "They explained her treatment would be around two years."

The terrified mum and dad bonded with other families on the ward, who rallied around and offered support.

Thankfully Isla responded well to her initial treatment and was allowed to stay at home after two weeks, something which is very rare for her illness.

But soon the treatment began to take its toll.

Her mum said: "Her hair fell out and she became quite pale and with dark eyes. But she never made a fuss and tried to carry on as normal.

"She was anxious about going back to school after losing her hair and had been given a wig from Little Princess Trust.

"But when she went into class, everyone was so pleased to see her she just pulled the wig off, which had been annoying her a little bit, and got on with it.

"She carried on gymnastics the whole time and even after she had her Hickman line put in she was jumping on a trampoline.

"There was nothing we held her back from doing if she wanted to.

"We just ploughed on through the two years and Isla was quite fortunate in how she responded to treatment.

to PS5.

"Looking at her now, you would never know there was anything wrong with her. She loves donate 212 music, dancing and playing the guitar." Isla, now 10, finished her treatment in January this year but has monthly blood tests to ensure she remains healthy.

The family have raised tens of thousands of pounds for the children's charity through fundraising since her diagnosis and have now pledged their support to the Schiehallion Appeal, which will give children like Isla a chance at life if their treatment fails.

Margaret said: "For two years of our life, our world revolved around the hospital and the treatment Isla received was five-star.

"The work they do is fantastic and you don't appreciate that until you experience it first hand.

"They are wonderful and I'll never be able to thank them enough."

ploughed To help Text CHILD to 70707 to donate PS5. Visit www.Glasgow ChildrensHospital Charity.org/donate or call 0141 212 8750

CAPTION(S):

BACK TO SCHOOL Isla, 10, has responded well to treatment

trials FAMILY Isla with parents Russell and Margaret and brother Murray

PARTY Isla with actor Sanjeev Kohli and charity chief Shona Cardle

ON THE WRITE PATH Isla has battled back from surgery

COMFORT Isla in hospital, cuddling her favourite cuddly toy

ARTISTIC Isla loves music and dancing
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 31, 2017
Words:900
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