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