Inspirational little girl battles blood cancer

Grace Dolphin.

Grace Dolphin with mum Stacey, dad Andy and sister Olivia.

Fundraisers for the GO GRACE appeal. At the summit of Ben Nevis, (left to right) Adam Davis, Gail Betts, Dean Simons, Andy Ferguson, Andy Adams, Richard Newman and Adam Laurence.

First published in News by

AN inspirational seven-year-old girl who is battling an adult form of blood cancer could be sent on her dream holiday to Disneyland after friends and family in Evesham backed an appeal to grant her wish.

Grace Dolphin is at the centre of the Go Grace appeal set up to send her and her family to America for the trip of a lifetime.

And the youngster has so far received lots of support from people who have heard about her story.

Currently the brave little girl is undergoing chemotherapy to fight Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

She lives with her parents Andy and Stacey Dolphin and sister Olivia in Avon Street, Evesham, but spends a lot of time in Birmingham Children's Hospital where she is treated for days on end with an aggressive form of chemotherapy to fight the cancer.

Yet despite everything she has to face Grace remains "happy and go lucky" proving an inspiration to those around her.

Mr Dolphin, a baker, said his daughter has been a "diamond".

"It was May time this year we noticed she had some bruises on her legs," he said. "She wasn't feeling unwell but we took her to the doctors because we couldn't explain why she had them.

"They took a blood test at 3pm and at 9pm that night we had a phone call saying get her to Worcestershire Royal Hospital."

The family took Grace to the hospital where she was given a blood transfusion after being diagnosed with having low platelets.

The next day they were told Grace had leukemia.

"When they take you in the room you know something's not good and that's when they told us," said Mr Dolphin. "That day they said we are taking her to Birmingham and we have been there since."

Since then Grace has had two out of four bouts of chemotherapy and is reacting well to the treatment, being placed into remission after each one.

"She has the adult version of leukemia so they have to hit it quite hard," said Mr Dolphin. "Her first session was 11 days of chemotherapy, day one she had three lots, then two lots and then one, and then day four it goes back to three and so on.

"Grace was fine. We heard all the horror stories and we thought her hair falling out would be the worst for a little girl but she took that with a pinch of salt like everything else."

After each stretch of treatment the family come home but during the sessions they live at the Ronald McDonald house in Birmingham.

Grace has also undergone Triple Intrafusions, where the chemotherapy is put into her spine to ensure it targets core areas of her body. But her family hope she won't require any more of this treatment.

The two final chemotherapy sessions should finish in November and all being well Grace will remain in remission but will be monitored for the next five years.

"The chemotherapy takes the bad cells but also has to take the good ones," explained Mr Dolphin. "They call it bottoming out. For three to four weeks she has no immune system and that's probably the worst part when she catches infections.

"At the moment she is as healthy as can be possible.

"But from day one she's been an absolute diamond and taken everything in her stride. She's very happy go lucky anyway."

After Grace was diagnosed Mr Dolphin's mum suggested they raise money to take her on her dream holiday.

"She's always been into the films, like Frozen," added Mr Dolphin.

So far a range of fundraising events and activities have raised about £5,000 for the family to travel abroad.

Mr Dolphin said what ever they raise over the amount they need will be donated to the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

"I think we will definitely be able to go," he added. "The support has been phenomenal. We are hoping to be able to go next year. And any excess money will be donated to Birmingham Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

"I plan to run the Birmingham Half Marathon next year as well. Once it's all over it will be our turn to start giving back."

Friends and family have been getting behind the appeal and over the weekend of August 2 eight people took on the Three Peaks Challenge.

Seven climbers Adam Laurence, Dean Simons, Adam Davis, Andy Adams, Andy Ferguson, Richard Newman, Gail Betts and driver Andy Bayliss, took on the challenge as Dean is the cousin of Grace's mum Stacey.

Mr Laurence, who helped set up gofundme.com/a77jl0 in support of the seven-year-old, said it all stemmed from a casual conversation.

"Over the next few weeks me and Andy Adams set up the Go fund me page and started getting on line donations even one from America from a girl called Grace in San Francisco. Grace's story melted her heart and so she donated along with a lovely message to us all."

The group undertook the challenge last weekend, beginning at Ben Nevis in Scotland, which took 4 hours.

"Then it was a six hour drive to Scafell Pike," said Me Laurence. "We reached the summit as it got dark and got completely lost for about 20 minutes as it was pitch black, windy and foggy but after some great navigational skills by Richard Newman we made it down."

They then headed to Snowdon, which they completed in four hours, meaning they did all three peaks within 23 hours and 36 minutes.

So far they have raised £2,500 towards the fundraising.

But the fundraising is continuing.

This Saturday from 7.30pm a charity auction will be held at Evesham United's Football ground in aid of the Go Grace appeal and Birmingham Children's Hospital.

There will be lots of sporting memorabilia up for grabs including a Premier League referee shirt signed by 14 of the referees, and later a disco and performance by Dean Bayliss.

Tickets cost £5.00 and can be bought from Evesham United on 01386 442303 or Bern Jordan on 07980 866763.

You can follow Grace's progress and support the appeal by visiting the GO GRACE page on Facebook.

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