Brave toddler in USA for lifesaving cancer treatment

Bethany Topley and brother Caine
Bethany Topley and brother Caine

A brave toddler with a rare form of cancer has headed out to the United States for life-saving surgery — and her family will be by her side thanks to generous locals.

Two-year-old Bethany Topley, of Stapleford, was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma under her left eye at just 11 months of age.

After undergoing six months of intensive chemotherapy and two operations, the NHS have now decided to send Bethany and her parents Paul Topley, 33, and Lesley Barsby, 23, out to Oklahoma City for radiotherapy - a course of treatment that is costing a reported £100,000-plus and could take up to 12 weeks.

Unfortunately the NHS could not cover the cost for the couple’s five-year-old son, Caine, to travel to America with the family - nor can it foot the bill for living costs while the Topleys are in the States.

But thankfully they were able to make their journey for pioneering surgery on Tuesday as a family after the national charity Kids’n’Cancer stepped forward to pay for Caine to travel with his parents and sister.

In another act of community spirit The Old Mill Club, in Mill Road, Stapleford, and Stapleford Community Group have been fundraising on behalf of the family to pay towards some of their living expenses while they are in America.

The Old Mill will be holding a fundraising event on Saturday, February 15, at 8pm, including a raffle and an auction.

The treatment Bethany will undergo willinvolve a groundbreaking proton beam. Bethany has already been treated with chemotherapy in the UK.

To completely remove the cancer in the operating theatre in this country, surgeons would have to remove part of Bethany’s eye, cheek and half her nose or use radiotherapy, which would stop her bones growing and affect the structure of her face.

The proton beam in America allows the radiotherapy to be controlled and delivered to a certain location without the risks associated with treatment in Britain.

Lesley explained: “Caine and his sister are extremely close and Bethany’s treatment has taken it’s toll on him. Their close bond would suffer if Caine wasn’t to come.”

Before heading to Heathrow for the family’s flight, she told the Advertiser that she was hopeful of what this trip to America could mean for Bethany and added that the support from fundraisers “had been incredible”.

Grandfather, David Barsby of Bramcote, Nottingham added: “We appreciate so much what the NHS can do for Bethany but it is fantastic that we can keep the family together.”

A fundraising craft event for children has been organised for Thursday, February 20 at The Maycliffe Hall, Stapleford from 10am until 2pm.