Grace Gaskell, a 14-year-old schoolgirl at St Joan of Arc in Rickmansworth, has raised over the £36,000 needed so that she can be treated with a drug that will give her the best chance to fight her battle against a rare form of brain cancer.
Her oncologist has recommended that she is treated with Everolimus which is not currently available on the NHS.
Grace, from Chalfont St Peter, was diagnosed in July 2018. Since her diagnosis, she has undergone two gruelling years of treatment and chemotherapy.
A GoFundMe page was set up on May 19 by her mother, Rebecca, and has raised over £45,000 already with more than 1,800 donors pledging their support to Grace and the Gaskell family.
Speaking to RickyNews, Rebecca commented on the overwhelming emotions that were felt by the family after the early support the fundraiser had received.
She said: “It’s incredibly humbling to see the amount of support Grace and we as a family are getting. The vast majority of the donations are from people we don’t personally know, and knowing they want to help Grace is overwhelming.
“Particularly donations from children and teenagers. One 16-year-old girl in particular contacted to say she was upset couldn’t afford to give a donation but wanted us to know that if she could help in any way she would. This was incredibly moving.”
The target amount on the fundraiser is currently set at £55,000 due to the further costs that will be needed for other medication and therapies that Grace may benefit from.
If Everolimus cannot be accessed privately or if it is unsuccessful, £55,000 will be required for Dendritic Cell Vaccination.
Rebecca continued to talk about the difficulties Grace has faced over the last two years, but also of the proudness and truly amazing qualities that her daughter possesses.
“There aren’t words to describe how proud we are of our Amazing Grace. Brain cancer is incredibly cruel, stripping Grace of her memories and taking away her ability to understand and process thoughts yet she never gets frustrated.
“She always thinks of others before herself, always tries her best to help at home, always sees other people’s hardships before her own. She truly is a very special amazing girl.”
Grace attends St Joan of Arc School in Rickmansworth, and according to Rebecca, have been incredibly supportive during the difficult times, and has high praise for the teachers and staff.
Rebecca said: “The staff at the school are amazing and the headmaster Mr Sweeney genuinely cares about all his pupils as individuals and is very passionate about his school.
“All of Grace’s teachers have gone out of their way to support her with as much help as she needs, often going out of their way to help Grace join in as much as possible.”
Rebecca also wanted to personally thank Caroline Sibley for all she has done for her daughter: “She is one of the most caring and kind people you could come across. Always looking after Grace’s best interests and making sure she’s safe and happy at school.
“In my eyes she goes above and beyond her role as matron, she is a very special person to us and to Grace.”
It’s not only the local community who have pledged their support for Grace, many high-profile public figures have got in touch with the family, including Carol Vorderman and Dua Lipa.
The famous singer even sent a personal video message, whilst Rebecca talks of a special connection that Grace shares with Vorderman.
She said: “It’s been amazing to get support from public figures helping Grace’s story to become known. Carol Vorderman has been supporting since 2018 due to Grace and her brother Josh and sister Imogen being air cadets with 606 Beaconsfield Sqd and Carol’s connection with the air cadets as Honorary Group Captain, she is truly lovely a person.
“The personal video message from Dua Lipa really blew Grace away and made her day. Grace and her sister Imogen love Dua’s songs and this message truly was very special to Grace.”
On May 29, 10 days after the fundraiser was set up, the Gaskell family put an update on it thanking everyone who donated but also confirming the brilliant news of being able to start the Everolimus treatment.
The update read: “I am OVERWHELMED to say we can start Everolimus. Grace had a very successful private appointment today which involved in-depth oncologist consultation, pharmacy consultation, physiotherapy, bloods and chest x-ray.
“Hopefully by the end of next week Grace will be on the new targeted drug that was flagged up to be a beneficial treatment.”
You can continue to donate to Grace’s fundraiser here gofundme.com/f/amazing-grace-fights-against-brain-cancer