Billie Bainbridge cancer fund reaches £100,000 mark

People supporting a four-year-old girl with inoperable brain stem cancer have raised more than £100,000 for her to have experimental treatment in the USA.

Billie Bainbridge, from Exeter, Devon, was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in June.

A support group for her, the Billie Butterfly Fund, said it was overwhelmed by people's generosity.

The money will fund journeys and the first stages of treatment in clinical trials in Texas, her parents have said.

Billie's tumour is on the brain stem, which controls all the body's vital functions. The condition affects about 40 children a year in the UK.

An early prognosis was that Billie was unlikely to survive for more than a year.

Radiotherapy in London shrank the tumour, but oncologists said nothing more could be done in the UK apart from steroid treatment to alleviate Billie's symptoms.

The family then decided to consider trials at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston by Dr Stanislaw Burzynski.

He is testing antineoplaston therapy, using naturally-occurring peptides in the body to target cancer without destroying normal cells.

Billie's mother, Terri Bainbridge, who is herself fighting breast cancer, said it was not an easy decision to go to America.

Image caption Terri Bainbridge also has cancer

Mrs Bainbridge, who was brought up in Cornwall, said: "There are all sorts of of clinical trials going on, but it's a very hard decision to make, to make your child a guinea pig.

"But it's that or doing nothing, and we're not prepared to do nothing."

Billie said she hoped to be "just like a real cowgirl" in America and already had an outfit.

"I've a skirt and hat and a sheriff badge."

Caroline Shortt, of the Billie Butterfly Fund, said donors had been "so incredibly kind".

The full treatment programme is expected to cost more than £200,000.

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