Layla O’Neill was diagnosed with a rare form of Cancer called Neuroplasm Glial Ependymoma, at the mere age of just 4.
Her family found out about her condition just weeks before her 4th birthday party, after she had a recurrence of illness.
“She kept getting sick and the doctors kept saying it was a viral infection. She was experiencing pain in her legs, which we all thought was growing pains.”
In May 2013, Layla started vomiting blood and her mother immediately took her to the hospital.
Layla was given an MRI scan which picked up that there was fluid on her brain and spots on her spine.
“The doctors said it was the first time they’d ever seen something like this. They operated and put in a shunt which takes the fluid away from her brain to relieve the pressure. They told us that if we had waited a day more to bring her to the hospital she would have not survived.”
“Layla’s condition is so rare that approximately 700 people in the world are living with the condition.”
The doctors were uncertain of her future & gave little Layla only 6 months to live… but 2 years later, this little fighter is not giving up or going anywhere, anytime soon.
“Layla is such a little fighter. She’s obsessed with Spiderman – he’s her favourite superhero & hero.”
Sharyn O’Neill, Layla’s mom started a Non-Profit Organisation called Ependy Angels to look after, raise money & awareness for Layla & other children suffering with different types of Cancers.
Most of the children supported by Ependy Angels start off without medical aid & usually, medical aids make people wait a year, once being diagnosed with Cancer, before treatment can commence.
During that year, Ependy Angels help by paying their medical bills & offer support & assistance to the families.
“To give you an idea of costs… Layla’s medical aid pays for roughly 97% of all her medical bills. The three percent that they don’t pay equates to around R30 000 a month.”
Through the treatments, Sharyn has been a pillar of strength & a beacon of hope… after the first set of radiation, Layla was finding it very traumatic to see her hair falling out so her mom decided to shave off the rest so that Layla wouldn’t feel scared. They both looked like urban runway models.
In just a couple of days, Layla & Sharyn will be on their way to India for a new surgery called “Cyber Knife” which has already caused waves in the medical industry & has seen incredible results in other patients.
Little Layla is an angel & an inspiration & knowing her… I’m sure we’re going to hear great things when they get back from their trip.