Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Parents race against time to raise £500,000 to save young Esme Handley - diagnosed with aggressive cancer

After four separate miscarriages Rebecca and Will Handley became parents to Esme. Little did they know they'd soon be trying to find £500,000 to save her.

It was on holiday in Greece that Rebecca noticed Esme was covered in bruises. Their lives changed immediately.

We went to see this top Greek doctor and we never left the hospital because they said within a couple of hours, she's got leukemia.

– Rebecca Handley

We didn't really understand how sick Esme was and they couldn't really communicate that to us - so there was a conversation around would she need any blood transfusions to be fit enough to fly.

– Will Handley
Handley family on holiday in Greece

Esme did fly and went straight to hospital. The cancer - AML - is so aggressive - she began chemo within a week. At first a stem cell transplant looked like a total success.

But the health service doesn't pay for a second round if the cancer returns within a year - which it did with her.

Esme's parents say each case should be treated individually are are now trying to raise half a million pounds to go private.

Esme Handley at home in the family's garden

There's a lot of evidence that with a second transplant you can have a good shot at a lifetime cure.

– Will Handley

It is the most stressful situation anyway. Having to actually find what could be as much as £500,000 - maybe even more - at short notice is unreal.

– Rebecca Handley

Will ran six marathons after his mum died suddenly of cancer. But now they are the ones in need. Rebecca and Will say they have been inspired by Esme who plays and smiles like there's nothing wrong, but there's no option to give up.

Whether she lives or dies is down to whether we get that money, we can't not get that money because we would have to live knowing we failed - not being able to secure that treatment for her.

– Rebecca Handley