Dancers unite to aid brave Bishopbriggs girl Kirsty

A group of dancers has stepped out to support a brave Bishopbriggs youngsters who has been fighting a brain tumour for the past nine years.

Sunday, 10th January 2021, 11:28 am

Kirsty MacAskill (11) was diagnosed with the disease when she was just two years old.

In her short life, the little girl has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Dancers from the Valerie Brown School of Dance and Drama at Hamilton, founded by Kirsty’s godmother, have been fundraising for Brain Tumour Research.

Valerie said: “My beautiful goddaughter Kirsty has been fighting a brain tumour since she was just two years old.

“She has gone through so much in her short life, including brain surgery and cancer treatment to try to prevent the tumour from growing.

“I have been friends with Kirsty’s mum Fiona since we were at high school together and I am in awe of how the family has dealt with everything.

“Raising money to help prevent other families going through similar ordeals is the least I can do to show my support.”

Kirsty’s shock diagnosis came in January 2012, after nursery staff noticed she was walking with a limp. Her parents Fiona and Ian took her to hospital but she was initially thought to be suffering from a viral infection in her hip. When they spotted more symptoms, including weakness in one side of her body, Fiona, a speech and language therapist, began to suspect it was a neurological problem.

After a CT scan at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, they were given the devastating news their daughter had an inoperable tumour on her brainstem

Fiona, who is also mum to Eilidh (19) and Lewis (17), said: “It was every parent’s worst nightmare. We were told she might only live three to nine months. Our whole world fell apart in that moment.”

The family met oncologist Dr Jairam Sastry who suggested a biopsy, to find out more about the tumour-type.

Finally, a ray of hope. They were relieved to discover it was a low-grade pilocytic astrocytoma, also known as juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA).

Fiona said: “The consultant who gave us the diagnosis said it was ‘very good news’. Kirsty was put on a course of chemotherapy, which she tolerated relatively well. One of the most shocking things was discovering how many other young brain tumour patients were going through the same thing.”

Sadly, things deteriorated within a year and Kirsty needed surgery. Fiona said: “Her balance went and she was struggling to sit up and to walk. Exactly a year after her initial diagnosis, in January 2013, we were back in hospital.”

The following month, the family went to see surgeon Conor Mallucci at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. He offered the family another lifeline, in the form of a delicate operation on the tumour. It was a success, but it has been a long road to rehabilitation.

Fiona said: “Kirsty lives with the after-effects of her treatment. She has cortical vision impairment and left-sided weakness. She can’t walk long distances and has to use a wheelchair. Her memory is impacted and she has mild to moderate learning difficulties. In spite of everything, she enjoys things other 11-year-old girls enjoy, like dancing, arts and crafts and technology.”

Fiona was delighted friend Valerie’s dance school took part in a special virtual Wear A Christmas Hat Day on Zoom to raise money.

To donate via Valerie’s fundraising page, go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/campbelllanedancestudios