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Generous NI public helps raise £95k for toddler

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FIGHTER: Little Zion suffers from a rare form of cancer

FIGHTER: Little Zion suffers from a rare form of cancer

FIGHTER: Little Zion suffers from a rare form of cancer

Well-wishers have raised an incredible £95,000 to help a Co Down toddler in his fight against a rare form of cancer.

Little Zion Cassidy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma - a form of cancer that affects 100 children in the UK every year - just two days before Christmas.

Now his parents Claire and Jonny Cassidy from Dundonald have vowed to do everything they can to help their son and donations are flooding into a JustGiving crowdfunding page.

"It's been a horrendous couple of months for our family," says nursing assistant Claire (40). "Cancer was the last thing on our minds, so when the doctors broke the news they'd found a 13cm mass on one of his kidneys, we were devastated.

"Zion is an amazing little boy. He loves his tractors and his dinosaurs, he loves George from Peppa Pig and having him go through all this is just a nightmare.

"The treatment is really hard-going and with Covid restrictions Jonny and I are having to split being with him at the hospital between us - but already we've had some good news.

"We found out this week his tumours have shrunk, so we're praying things keep going in the right direction and he got home on Thursday night, hopefully for a full week."

And while the couple, along with Zion's sisters, six-year-old Eden and Libby Duncan (21), are hoping the tot's treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital will get rid of his cancer, due to neuroblastoma's high rate of relapse and mortality the family is desperate for the youngster to access pioneering treatment in the States.

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Zion Cassidy and dad Jonny

Zion Cassidy and dad Jonny

Zion Cassidy and dad Jonny

"As many as 50 per cent of children with high-risk neuroblastoma relapse," explains Claire. "There are trials at the minute in the US working to fight against that, and we desperately need our little boy to get on one of them.

"We're hoping and praying he gets through this stage of his treatment here in Northern Ireland, and when it's over we want to give him every chance we can at living a full life without the shadow of a relapse hanging over him.

"This whole ordeal is horrendous for Zion and we'll do whatever we can to make sure he doesn't have to go through it again.

"That's why we've felt so bold as to reach out to people for support in helping get him onto one of these trials and we hope the £150,000 we're aiming to raise will get him there.

"We feel it's the only option we've got and we're so grateful for all the amazing support we've had. People have been incredible and we can't thank them enough."

n Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/zion-the-brave

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