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Robyn Brooks

Robyn fought hard against cancer for five years before finally losing her fight for life in March 2004.

Her tragic story began when she was three-and-a-half when she was rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis in August 1999.

But the news doctors had for parents Garry and Karen was far worse - Robyn had the rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma.

After nearly a year of intensive treatment she was allowed home. But a year later the disease came back and this time doctors told Garry and Karen there could be no cure.

However the brave couple refused to give up hope and scoured the internet to find hospitals which could offer alternative treatments.

They found the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York, one of the world's leading cancer treatment and research centres, where doctors were pioneering new form of treatment called 3f8 Antibody Therapy.

Finding a hospital that could treat Robyn was one thing, finding the hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for the therapy was another.

In August 2001 they launched the Robyn Brooks Appeal to raise money. At first a web site was set up and friends did collections and raffles, but the appeal quickly caught the public's imagination and soon people all over the country were raising money for her.

Kind-hearted folk seemed prepared to go to almost any lengths to help, from shaving their heads to fancy dress pub crawls, from gala balls to posing nude for calendars.

Within nine months enough cash was raised for Robyn to start treatment and the family left everything they knew behind them to go to New York.

Over the next two years they experienced a roller-coaster ride of emotions during Robyn's treatment.

Harsh chemotherapy got rid of the tumours, then she had a major operation to remove lymph nodes from her chest followed by a stem cell transplant.

At times she hovered between life and death, but each time she bounced back and by March 2003 she was well enough to start the antibody therapy that mum and dad hoped could lead to a permanent cure.

Even families who had ill children themselves were supporting Robyn as she became a symbol of hope battling against almost insurmountable odds.

The treatment was going well and it seemed Robyn could be on the road to recovery. But in September Garry and Karen were told the shattering news that the cancer had come back.

More treatment followed which got rid of the tumours in time for Robyn to celebrate her eighth birthday, with a grandparents and other family flying out to be with her.

The family began the new year with renewed hope, but in February the Neuroblastoma came back and this time Robyn could fight no more.

Mum and dad were with her when she died on 17 March, and her home town was brought to a standstill by her funeral two weeks later.

But although she has died her name lives on with the appeal and she is now giving hope to other children.