A five-year-old girl with an untreatable tumour is hoping her dreams can come true as her family try to raise money to take her to Disneyland to meet her cartoon heroes.
Acacia Surridge-Hill, from Crewe, has a rare brain tumour, which was partially removed during an operation but which couldn’t be totally taken out without leaving her completely paralysed.
The brave schoolgirl has had thirteen gruelling chemotherapy sessions without anaesthetic, and got through it by singing her favourite songs, reports CheshireLive.
Now, her family want to take the Frozen super-fan to Disneyland, so she can meet characters Elsa and Anna from the hit musical.
Well-wishers have raised more than £4,000 so far so that Acacia’s mum, step-dad and brother can make more treasured memories with her.
Until the summer of this year, Acacia was a healthy five-year-old.
But on August 26, mum Carly noticed changes in Acacia’s face and knew something wasn’t quite right. She was later diagnosed with a rare diffuse midline glioma.
“She could only smile with one side of her face,” said 31-year-old Carly, “and her eye wouldn’t close properly. We went to the doctor straight away and they said it was probably Bell’s palsy, but told us to go to Leighton Hospital to be sure.
“At Leighton they said the same thing, so she was put onto steroids for five days, and seemed lots better.
“But when they finished on day six, she wasn’t right. She was very dizzy and vomiting and crying with a headache, so we rushed her back to hospital.
Carly said she knew something was wrong. An MRI scan found a mass on Acacia’s brain.
“We were transferred to Alder Hey Hospital immediately where another scan was done, and then they planned to operate within that same week.
Acacia, 5, is a Frozen mega-fan, and her family want to be able to take her to Disneyland to meet her favourite characters.
Family, friends and well-wishers have raised up to £4000 so far, but there’s still some way to go.
You can donate to Acacia’s appeal here, on the JustGiving page.
“Acacia had an operation to remove part of the tumour. But it wasn’t able to be removed fully as this would have left her fully paralysed.
“Two days after her operation, she was back walking up and down the stairs with the physiotherapy team watching her closely.
“She has had thirteen radiotherapy sessions, all done without general anaesthetic. She just lay there singing her heart out each time she had it done.
“If you looked at Acacia, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. People may notice that her eye looks different where the tumour caused pressure on her brain stem, but you can’t see the scar on her head, and she is so happy and positive. She just bounces around, so lively and full of energy.”
Carly says the support from the local community has been ‘overwhelming’, with several people offering to do sponsored challenges to raise money to support the family – which includes stepdad Ben and Acacia’s eight-year-old brother Landon.
“Landon’s football team is Crewe Town FC and they have been so supportive,” continued Carly. “They are doing sponsored runs and bike rides as soon as they are able to under the current restrictions.
“It’s overwhelming how supportive people have been – even people that we don’t know have reached out and been so kind to us.”
Acacia’s favourite thing in the world is Frozen, and Carly says she would love to be able to take her daughter to experience some Disney magic when it’s safe to do so.
“There’s only one thing for Acacia and that’s Frozen – especially Elsa,” said Carly. “She likes other things but nothing compares to that.
“When she did her radiotherapy, she had an Elsa poster that she stuck stickers onto after each session. It would be great to take her to Disneyland. I don’t know how she would react if she saw Elsa – she’d absolutely love it!
“I’m so grateful to the community for all of their support as it does mean so much to us as a family.”
Local groups and individuals have already started to fundraise for Acacia and her family, to enable them to make as many special memories as possible.
Chris Scarlett – known as ‘Mini Chris’ – will be running a marathon in December and Crewe Town FC have already raised more than £3,500 with a sponsored run and a bike ride planned for later this month.
Singer and mum-of-two Gemma Harper-Bone, from Harriseahead, also heard about Acacia’s heartbreaking diagnosis, and decided she wanted to put on a four hour long live charity gig on Facebook later this month.
Gemma, 34, said: “I can’t believe how supportive everyone has been already. Overnight we raised more than £500.
“The whole community has been so kind and generous in such a short space of time. We want to raise as much as possible to give Acacia and her family some happy memories.
“I want to host a raffle during the live stream as well so if anyone has any prizes that they can donate that would be really appreciated. They can get in touch through Facebook.”