Brave Tillie's American journey to fight rare brain tumour
A FIVE-year-old girl with a rare brain tumour will have to travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic for life-saving treatment.
Doctors have confirmed that Tillie Carter from St Peter's, Cheltenham, will have to undergo eight weeks of gruelling treatment, only available in the United States.
An MRI scan at Bristol Childrens' Hospital has confirmed the blonde-haired girl, who loves painting her nails and putting on make-up, will need proton radiotherapy to treat the craniopharyngioma – a rare tumour which is lodged in the tissues of the pituitary gland.
Mum Sophie Carter said: "I know it's going to be a long process and I'm so glad to have my friends and family there for me. We are very grateful. We are trying to carry on as normal."
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The hospital in Florida has told unemployed Sophie and Tillie's dad Charlie Gosling, 21, that her treatment will start before Christmas and put them on two weeks' notice.
This means Tillie and her parents will probably spend Christmas Day in hospital.
Tillie had an operation at the end of August to put a stent in to drain fluid from around the tumour, when surgeons managed to remove some of the growth.
Sophie and Charlie will be able to fly to Jacksonville with Tillie at the expense of the NHS, but they are expected to find their own living expenses.
Sophie's cousin Nicola Drake, along with Tillie's aunt Louise Carter and many other family members and friends have rallied round to raise the funds to keep mum and dad fed and watered, during their anxious wait to see if the treatment has worked.
A fundraiser at Swindon Village Hall on Sunday raised £1,734.04, which will go to a pot of £720 already raised at another event held in Bishop's Cleeve.
Nicola said: "It's good to know what the plan is with Tillie's treatment and the fact that she's going to be better soon.
"She may have to have injections for the rest of her life, because the tumour is close to the pituitary gland, which covers the growth hormones.
"Even if she was to be given two weeks' notice today, they would be in America for Christmas.
"The fundraising day was great, even though it was raining.
"There was no way we could have got another person in that hall.
"We even had a barbecue, despite the rain. We just put gazebos up and got on with it.
"We've set up an account for Tillie, so that her mum and dad can keep going while they are out in the US.
"We will keep raising money, because it will be expensive to survive in America for eight weeks.
"But we've made a really good start."
Tillie was diagnosed after she started suffering with headaches and vomiting.
Sophie said: "When I found out she had this brain tumour, I just cried.
"I thought 'why was it my little girl? Why can't it be me?'
"My cousin and aunt are amazing for doing all this. I was wondering how I was going to be able to pay for this.
"The doctors said the tumour will never go completely and it's so close to the pituitary gland.
"The hormones can be replaced with a tablet which can be taken every day for the rest of her life.
"I don't care about that because she's perfect.
"She's off school at the moment and we have to use a buggy for her because she gets tired a lot.
"We are trying to carry on as normal."