By Sarah Slater
A young Dublin girl has returned home from the US after having to postpone starting a groundbreaking vaccine, due to not being strong enough.
Robyn Smyth, 13, from Whitehall in Dublin, has been fighting aggressive cancer, neuroblastoma, for 10 years and had started the new treatment last Friday at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.
The teenager flew out to the US with her Mum Bernadette two weeks ago hoping to take part in the trial. She will become the first Irish person taking part in the treatment.
But unfortunately, the vaccine trial was stopped, as the teenager’s, “immune system is lower than it needs to be,” explained Bernadette.
“Things don’t always go to plan for Robyn and we’ve been through some really bad times due to her illness. Yes, we are all so disappointed with this latest setback after but it will go ahead in September no matter what.”
Robyn and Mum returned to Dublin this morning after an overnight from New York.
The second-year secondary student will be infused with platelets, which are tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding, as they are currently too low. She will have the procedure at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in a bid to make to bolster her immune system.
“Then we will go back out, to the States, in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, this extra time will help Robyn's immune system recover a little more but regardless the vaccine will go ahead when we return.
“The vaccine helps Robyn make antibodies that help fight back neuroblastoma. The treatment involves seven vaccines spread out over a year.”
Last June Bernadette made an emotional outpouring for the public’s financial help as her attempts to raise €326,000 for Robyn’s medical treatment were failing.
But not having enough money to pay for the treatment, following two good scans at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Michigan, where Robyn had been receiving treatment since 2015, meant that her health had begun to deteriorate.
Bernadette’s fundraising had stalled at €70,000 but following her appeal, Erin McGregor, sister of UFC king Conor, helped to start a floss dance challenge in a desperate bid to help save Robyn’s life. Thousands of euros was donated by the public as a result.