A young girl whose cancer was not diagnosed in time has died after planning her own funeral.
Doctors first thought that Darcy McGuire, from Fife, Scotland, was suffering from growing pains when she fell ill at the age of three.
It took until January this year – four years later – before they realised she had chordoma; a rare type of cancer that affects the skull and spine.
Her mum Carol Donald, 38, was told that the illness was terminal so she and Darcy, eight, started planning her funeral.
In the meantime she helped to raise thousands of pounds for Children’s Hospices across Scotland which supported her family.
Her death was announced on the Facebook page Darcy Rae’s Dreams.
The site said: ‘It’s with a hugely broken heart that I tell everyone Darcy Rae Mcguire gained her angel wings this morning.
‘I can’t even begin to tell people how devastated me and the kids are. But she passed away very peacefully at Rachel House and for that I will be eternally grateful.
‘I would like to say thank you to everyone who messages me for updates etc but me and the kids needed these last special few weeks without having to answer messages. I hope everyone understands.
‘Darcy was truly one in a million and a huge part of my heart will never heal.
‘I’m so grateful to have had 8 amazing years with her, she has taught me so much in this last year and the strength she has maintained throughout is what will keep me strong.
‘Fly high with the angels my precious dear Darcy.’
Speaking previously, Carol said: ‘If this had been found earlier, I have no doubt Darcy could have stood a chance at beating this cruel disease.’
The first sign that there was something wrong was when Carol noticed a lump on Darcy’s spine. But she was repeatedly told there was nothing to worry about – even when Darcy started losing weight.
But Darcy started falling over on a daily basis and in January she was told she had the cancer which affects just one in 20 million children across the planet every year.
Unchallenged, the cancer had spread to her ribs, lungs, skull, hand, arms and legs. She also had three large tumours on her spine and sacrum (a large bone at the base of the spine).
The doctor who diagnosed her said she could not believe that the cancer had been missed for so long.
Carol said: ‘I was so angry and frustrated because I always knew, as her mum, that something was being missed.
‘I’ve always been extremely honest with Darcy about her illness and she knows that one day she is going to die.’
NHS Lothin and NHS Fife said they would not comment on individual patients for confidentiality reasons.
What is chordoma
Chordoma is a rare type of cancer in the bones of the skull and spine.
It is part of a family of cancers called sarcoma, which include cancers of the bones, cartilage, muscles and other connective tissue.
Chordomas are generally slow growing, but are relentless and tend to recur after treatment.
Because of their proximity to critical structures such as the spinal cord, brainstem, nerves and arteries, they are difficult to treat and require highly specialised care.
1 in 125,000 people live with chordoma, and it mostly occurs in older people. There are no approved drugs to treat it.
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