A fundraiser has been set up to help the parents of a toddler undergoing treatment for a rare type of cancer.
Little Holly Shepherd was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma a few weeks ago and is currently on her second course of chemotherapy at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
The 20-month-old toddler is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer which develops in soft tissue, and could face hospital care even further away from her Peterhead home.
Fewer than 60 children are diagnosed with the condition in the UK every year and youngsters often require specialist treatment which is only available at certain medical facilities.
Holly could end up travelling to Manchester, London, Germany or Florida for further care.
Friends of the family have now set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to help ease the financial pressures faced by her parents, who also have Holly’s twin brother, Jack, and eight-year-old brother George to look after.
And generous residents living in the Buchan town have so far raised £23,165.
Parents Fiona and Jo Shepherd are grateful for all the money donated to help the family.
Mum Fiona said: “We have no words for how unbelievable our little town is, the support it offers when one of their own needs it is second to none.
“Everyone has been so incredibly kind and generous, from calls, messages and visits, to fundraising, food parcels, offers of houses to stay in Aberdeen – and to have raised an absolutely incredible amount of money for Holly is just overwhelming.”
Holly came into the world fighting. She and her twin brother were born prematurely when Fiona was 29 weeks pregnant.
The twins spent almost two months in the neonatal unit before they were able to make the journey home.
Fiona wanted to thank everyone for their help. She added: “Never in a million years did we expect to be in this situation again – from being split up from the boys and Jo, having to spend this length of time in hospital and Holly having to fight with everything she has.
“But everyone has made this time less stressful with their support and generosity. Thank you.”
The online fundraiser, which was only set up last week, has already passed the original £15,000 target and their friend Kim Geddes hopes to raise more.
Donations will go towards travel and living expenses with Holly facing travelling further afield for radiotherapy and other treatments.
Kim, 34, who is also a mother to twins, said: “I was one of Fiona’s bridesmaids and she was mine.
“We have known each other for as long as I can remember and over the years I have got close to Fiona’s husband Jo. They are just a family who would be the first to help others. That is just the way they are.
“Fiona had the twins at 29 weeks and they were premature. They were in the neonatal ward in Aberdeen for two months back then.
“It was hard for the family because they were going back and forward, especially for George.
“Now Holly is having to go through this but she is really taking it all in her stride.
“Fiona and Jo are also handling it well but it is tough for them. They have just been amazing.
“Holly has been out of hospital a couple of times but because she has a high risk of infection she cannot be near her brothers.
“Fiona is with Holly all the time so it has been difficult for Jack and George.
“Jo has been going back and forth from Peterhead so we are trying to do anything to help.”
Kim said they were surprised by the amount of money they had received in such a short period of time.
She added: “We have even received funding from people we don’t even know.
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“But it is definitely the community spirit that has driven the fundraiser. Peterhead may be a small town but it is a good one.”
Kim said she hoped to organise coffee mornings and other events to help raise as much money as she could for her friends.
She added: “Holly, at this point, has to go through nine doses of chemotherapy and will need radiation. We don’t know what kind of treatment she will need and they may need to travel.
“We just want to make sure they don’t have to worry about money while they are going through this. I just want to say we are so thankful to everyone who has donated.”