Childhood cancer - Lola's story

Lola was just 16 months old when she was diagnosed with leukaemia. Thanks to specialist testing on Charity-funded machines, she is being given the best possible treatment and care

One-year-old Lola was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in February 2022. Thanks to testing on FISH machines, funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Lola’s cancer sub-type was identified. This meant her treatment could be tailored, giving her the best chance of being treated successfully and lessening the likelihood of her relapsing in the future.

To mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Lola’s mum Hollie tells us her story.

Lola in toy car

Receiving the diagnosis

"Lola was pretty poorly in January and had gained quite a bit of weight – even though she wasn’t really eating much. It sounded like she was struggling to breathe and she was profusely sweating.

“When we first took her to the GP, she was initially prescribed antibiotics. Then she was given dexamethasone as they thought she might have croup. This medication only seemed to work for around a day until she was poorly again.

“We went back to get her checked out at A&E. They did some blood tests and the results showed her white blood cells were up. We then got told she had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Care at The Royal Marsden

“Lola was put under the care of Rob Dowse at The Royal Marsden. The first stage of her treatment, which they call the induction, was probably the most intense time of our lives. Hopefully we won’t ever have to go through something this intense with her again.

“During the two weeks we were staying at the hospital, Lola underwent further tests, including blood tests conducted on the FISH machine and opening her bone marrow further to analyse the cancer cells.

“When the results came through, they were able to give Lola more of a specific diagnosis based on the abnormalities that they had found – this meant they were able to change her treatment to a regime which was more appropriate for her.

Targeted treatment

“The treatment she is on now is more targeted. If this hadn’t been picked up with the FISH machine tests, she would have carried on with the treatment plan she was on – which wouldn’t have been enough. This also means the chance of her relapsing would have been higher after completing the previous treatment she was on as it might not have been strong enough for the type of cancer that she has.

Lola with pencils

“We’re so grateful that Lola was able to have access to the FISH testing and we’d like to say thank you to everyone who helped to fund this machine.

“We would always fundraise to support The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity now, to say thank you for everything they’ve done for our little one. My family and friends and even work colleagues are also supporting the Charity on behalf of Lola. I want to do a big fundraiser next year and my husband is running The London Marathon to fundraise too.

“I think all the staff at The Royal Marsden are brilliant. We don’t tell Lola we’re going to hospital; we call it the ‘playroom’ – she thinks this is what The Royal Marsden is!"

What is a FISH test?

A FISH test "maps" the genetic material in a person's cells. It is used across many cancer types and sub-types to detect and analyse genetic abnormalities that can help predict a patient's response to treatment.

Thanks to a generous donation from Daniel Peltz OBE and Elizabeth Peltz to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, we have now been able to fund two new machines at the hospital which are already making a vital difference.

Support The Royal Marsden to help more children like Lola