THE parents of a 16-month-old ‘angel’ given just days to live after being diagnosed with a rare cancer have thanked the public for their ‘overwhelming support’.
Little Poppy-Mai Barnard, from Infirmary, Blackburn, became ill last month and her condition has since deteriorated rapidly.
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Her mum Sammi Baker-Barnard, and dad Andrew Barnard, 31, received the devastating news from doctors last Wednesday that she was likely to have only ‘a couple of days’ left.
Last night she was with her family at their home.
Sammi said the youngster described as ‘vibrant, bright and loving’ loves playing ‘boo’ with her doting brothers, Rylee, six and Jensen, who is four.
The 29-year-old who formerly worked as a domestic at Blackburn Royal Hospital, said: “It all started six weeks ago when my little girl fell ill.
“I took her to the doctors twice but was brushed off, being told it was teething and then constipation.
“Being a mummy you know your own child and I knew it wasn’t right. So I took her to the hospital and they told me the news that my sweet girl had cancer.
“They told us it was a rare malignant rhabdoid tumour in her kidney and lungs.
“In the space of a week the masses on her lungs had grown.”
Last week the family received the devastating news her condition had worsened.
Sammi said: “She started chemo because the cancer was aggressive. They wanted to do a routine MRI to rule out it spreading anywhere else.
“To the doctors shock, the news we got was devastating. Poppy-Mai also has a very big tumour in her brain and the four valves in her brain are also full of fluid.
“We’ve now got to deal with the fact I gave birth to an angel who only has days left to live.”
Sammi, a former St Bede’s pupil and Andrew, who went to Witton High School, currently live in Thetford in Norfolk, as Andrew serves in the RAF and is stationed nearby.
In order to keep supporters aware of their story the couple set up a Facebook page ‘The Journal of Poppy-Mai’ and have received thousands of messages of support from near and far.
In the space of a few days hundreds of well wishers have organised balloon releases, charity walks, collections and charity nights.
Last weekend, Andrew’s colleagues organised a princess day for Poppy-Mai, including a make-shift wedding so he could walk her down the aisle like he had always dreamed of.
Haulage company Eddie Stobart have also named one of their trucks in her honour, painting her name on the lorry’s livery.
On Tuesday, a light aeroplane flew over the county after taking off from Blackpool, trailing her name in tribute.
Poppy-Mai’s uncle and Sammi’s brother, Jonathan Baker, 24, said they had not anticipated the level of support.
He said: “It’s been incredibly difficult for all of our family and it’s happened in such a short period of time.
“Poppy is beautiful, loving and playful and she’s so loved. Her big brothers adore her.
“I know Sammi and Andrew would dearly like to thank the thousands of people who have offered help and comfort to them.
“Last week my brother Robert took down a car full of gifts, toys and hampers that folk from East Lancashire had donated to them.
“The support has been widespread though. She’s touched people’s hearts worldwide.
“Sammi and Andrew have also been helped while staying at the hospital by a charity called Acorn and money raised by supporters will go to them and other charities supporting families affected by childhood cancer.”
Simon Maher, Sammi’s cousin, has organised a charity night hosted by Blackburn All Stars Junior Football Club, for whom several of Poppy-Mai’s relatives play.
It will be held at St Paul’s WMC, Blackburn on Friday, April 22 from 7.30pm.
There will be music, and hypnotist Ian Dee and magician Resh will perform.
Simon has already had signed shirts donated by Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United for an auction.
Half of all ticket sales will go to the hospital ward which cared for Poppy-Mai with other donations going to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Tickets which are £10, with children free can be obtained by contacting Simon on 07514 177802 or by going to Blackburn Allstars JFC on Facebook.