Mum's fight for life - after Ruby won hers

PUBLISHED: 12:24 16 December 2011

Ruby Dunn shortly after her birth

Ruby Dunn shortly after her birth


THE mother of a 'miracle baby' is using her daughter's remarkable fight for survival 
as inspiration to overcome her own cancer battle, after health authorities refused to fund her treatment.

When Ruby Dunn was born three months early, doctors at the time said she was the smallest baby to survive and rated her survival chances at just five per cent.

Five years on and mother Kerry, who cares for her on a full-time basis, is facing equally slim odds after North Somerset Primary Care Trust refused to pay the £15-18,000 cost of her unique radiotherapy treatment.

She said: “It is money we can ill-afford but what else can you do? It is the only form of radiotherapy I can have as I have already had some in other areas.

“I have beaten it twice. I’m going to have a third go. There’s a treatment that can cure me and I’m going to fight for it. £15,000 – this is the price of my life.”

But Ruby’s own fight has acted as an inspiration to her own. Born at Southmead Hospital in Bristol 14 weeks early, Ruby only weighed 12-and-a-half ounces, and was so small she could easily sit in the palm of her mother’s hand.

Kerry said: “The doctors only gave her a five per cent chance of survival, so they were amazed when she battled through – she’s such a little fighter.”

Kerry, aged 46, and husband Craig, aged 43, had to wait for more than four months to take their new daughter home. Although she fought through her first months, the early birth had a serious impact.

Ruby is unable to speak and suffers from severe autism, which has made it hard for her to communicate with classmates.

Peter Kennell and Pauline Hoy-Green, learning assistants at Sandford Primary School, where Ruby now goes, have helped her to develop her communication skills.

Peter said: “She’s very intelligent, she’s great with numbers, letters and spelling, and she is also becoming a good musician – she performed Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the glockenspiel at the school nativity last week.”

Kerry, of Somerville Road, Sandford, was recently diagnosed with cancer in her mesentery tissue between the stomach and bowel.

Unless she receives Cyberknife treatment, a form of radiosurgery, she says her own chances of beating the illness may decline to only eight per cent within the space of two years.

Doctors have told her ‘time is of the essence’ as she faces the daunting prospect of having to fund her own treatment.

She said she will start fundraising in January but admits the fatigue caused by her illness will make it hard work and she will still need to look after Ruby, despite the ‘fantastic’ support of staff at the school since her diagnosis.

She said: “If I were to receive the treatment, it apparently has a 100 per cent chance of getting rid of the cancer for good. If I don’t, then my chances of survival go down to around 30 per cent in a year, and then, after that, down to only eight.”

Husband Craig added: “Kerry is Ruby’s carer, and if her cancer is untreated she will be unable to look after her.

“It is the only treatment that will work to get rid of the cancer, she cannot have radiotherapy again and because of its position it’s inoperable.

“It just seems so counter-productive to not allow her to have the treatment – we will just have to battle on to get it for her.”

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