In August 2020, Sophia Shaw began complaining of a headache during a family camping trip and was later taken to hospital in Durham after becoming limp and unresponsive.
Doctors initially treated her for meningitis, before an MRI scan found an aggressive tumour – slightly smaller than a golf ball- in the cerebellum area of Sophia’s brain which required immediate attention.
Shocked by the news, parents Matt Shaw and Tracy Statt rushed to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) with Sophia to meet surgeons who would be operating on her. Told the risks of the surgery, Matt and Tracy described the ordeal as “the toughest days of our lives – the cliche stands where we would have traded places in a nano-second, ten times over”.
The surgery went well and Sophia soon underwent Proton Beam therapy, with a scan in September last year showing she was in the clear.
But just a month later a shock phone call from the consultant revealed Sophia had a ‘spot’ on her spine.
By November, a brain and spine MRI scan showed the spot to be aggressive and could only be controlled with radiotherapy and surgery. This carried big risks, including the possibility of Sophia losing her ability to walk. The treatment would only buy her some extra time and not cure her.
It marked an incredibly difficult time for the family, who live in Carville, Durham, as Tracy, originally from Hebburn, was eight months pregnant at the time. Following the family’s own research into alternative methods to treat Sophia’s cancer, she has been receiving High Dose Vitamin C and Bio-Resonance treatments.
Tracy said: “At the moment she’s doing really well, she does get anxiety from past treatments, she has a phobia of needles and can get tired easily. We still have a list of treatments we want to try when we have the money for it. The main aim for us is treatments that can help boost her immune system as it can help repair the body.
“Her condition has become our whole lives. I used to be an artist but I don’t draw, so whenever I’m spending time with Sophia and Delilah I’m reading and researching into treatments. We do try do as much as we can as a family like go to the beach and the park.”
Matt, 39, and Tracy, 33, made the decision not to tell Sophie about her condition to avoid any stress or anxiety bringing down her immune system or make her condition worse. They want her to enjoy her time being a child and being a big sister to four-month old Delilah.
Tracy’s mum and her partner, who live in Hebburn, have already held fundraisers in the town for Sophia at Dougie’s Tavern and will soon be hosting another. The next one will take place at Hebburn Buffs on Friday, May 7, at 7pm. The night will feature a disco, karaoke and raffle prizes.
To donate to the cause to help fund crucial treatments for Sophia visit www.gofundme.com/f/sophias-next-chapter