Beckton parents need £100,000 to treat seriously ill daughter’s brain tumour

Three-year-old Maham Usman. Picture: Tooba Usman and Usman Azam

Three-year-old Maham Usman. Picture: Tooba Usman and Usman Azam - Credit: Tooba Usman and Usman Azam

A Beckton couple trying to save the life of their seriously-ill toddler are appealing for help to raise money for specialist treatment in Europe.

Tooba Usman, 28 and husband Usman Azam, 27, made an urgent fundraising appeal for daughter Maham to receive proton beam therapy–an advanced form of radiotherapy currently unavailable on the NHS.

They need to raise £100,000 for private treatment, and are desperately searching for clinics in Germany and Switzerland.

“I’m so, so stressed. My mind isn’t working really,” mum Tooba told the Recorder, adding: “All the time I’m just sitting on the computer, emailing and talking to the doctors.”

The pair, who live in Bellflower Close and also have a two-year-old daughter, Sarah, first approached a facility in Prague for help. They sent doctors Maham’s scans but were told the clinic was full.

“They [the clinic] just cancelled everything at the last minute,” said Tooba. “They just said: ‘Oh, we’ve just found out that we haven’t got space at the hospital’.”

Maham was first diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumour affecting children, in January 2015.

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She had yet to blow out her first birthday candles when she underwent eight months of chemotherapy and multiple brain surgeries at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The treatment left Maham with speaking and hearing problems. She cannot walk and is fed through “a tube in her tummy,” said Tooba.

Last month, Maham, now aged three, had another operation after doctors said her tumour had regrown.

They recommended radiotherapy to stop the cancer spreading, though Maham’s parents worry about its possible side-effects.

While Maham’s consultant oncologist, Dr Yen-Ching Chang, told the parents proton beam therapy “would offer the same chance of cure as photon therapy” - a more conventional procedure using X-rays - and “may offer an advantage” in reducing the chance of side effects and secondary cancers.

Proton beam therapy shoots cancerous cells with high-energy protons, rather than X-rays. Advocates say its precision beam and minimal damage to surrounding tissue make it particularly good for treating complex cancers.

Manchester’s Christie hospital will be the first NHS unit to offer the therapy, but not until August 2018.

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