Recently, Lord Dunn lived in denial when they discovered their daughter had cancer. Eventually, the couple accepted it and even planned her funeral, but Isla May was not ready to leave her family. 2020 was a tough year for everyone around the world. It introduced a new disease that claimed lives and forced the closure of schools and businesses. The world was at a standstill.
For the Dunn family, 2020 will continue to be the year their lives changed. Their then three-year-old daughter had a high temperature and breathing problems. The doctor diagnosed tonsillitis. A few months later, the couple discovered she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Together, they battled the illness, and despite their daughter dying three times, Isla May will live to celebrate her fifth Christmas.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a Bagthorpe couple, Rhys and Laura, realized that their daughter Isla May was developing different symptoms. They sought medical help and even treated her using antibiotics. The couple had believed it was a cold, but eventually confirmed that the doctors had misdiagnosed her and that they were dealing with a more dangerous disease, cancer. Before checking her into the hospital, Isla May seemed to be normal. “We got in the car, and Isla was playing and smiling, so we didn’t expect it to be anything serious,” Rhys confirmed.
Even when I dropped her and Laura at King Mills Hospital, Isla turned to me and grinned, “See you later, Daddy.” It was impossible to accept that their child, who was full of life, charming, and very active, would suffer from anything other than a cold or tonsillitis. So it was unbelievable when the results came back. Laura revealed, “I said there’s no way she got cancer. She’s running around.
So I called Rhys, and he said the same thing. We were both in denial. Isla May stayed in the hospital for some time, undergoing different treatments and tests to stabilize her health and monitor her cancer. The doctors took her in for surgery to remove the tumor, and shockingly, the toddler died three times. Following the success of the surgery, she began chemotherapy, and this was a worrisome period for the couple as their once bubbly little girl began to lose her hair.
Laura’s Mini-Me suffered from blood clotting and contracted COVID-19 twice. This was when the couple struggled to keep up hope. Even after the treatment, Isla May remained highly vulnerable to infection. During the holiday in 2021, she battled a potential fungal infection. Earlier this year, Isla May began her final chemotherapy.
Again, tests were run continuously, and on September 2nd, after six tests verified she was free of infections, she was given the all-clear and declared cancer-free. Isla had to ring a bell and rate a plaque. There were cheers, but some of the nurses didn’t even know, so it would have been nice if everyone who treated Isla could have been there. Throughout the journey, the couple has shown unwavering support for their daughter, and it never mattered when it came at a price. In 2020, Laura became a mom again after welcoming the youngest of her brood.
Unfortunately, this coincided with when Isla May was undergoing treatment. The family described it as a bittersweet moment. Although they were happy to welcome a new child, they decided not to celebrate the birth due to their sick daughter’s condition. Again, long before Isla May was declared cancer-free, the family abandoned their beloved pub in Nottinghamshire to concentrate on giving their daughter the best care. According to Rhys, “We left the pub in June.
We felt we needed to take a step back. We’re looking to stay in the pub trade, but just for now, I need to take a step back. I don’t know how we’ve done it, but we did it and pulled together.” Rhys worked as a general manager at the popular Shepherd’s Rest pub, but the family opted for life away from the pub. They rented a new home while resting.
They’ll intend to prioritize their daughter, who will undergo a series of tests. Despite being cancer-free, Isla May’s father opened a GoFundMe account to raise £1,127.62 to help with their medical expenses. Thankfully, there have been over 300 donors, and the amount raised so far is about £6,750 or $7.6 thousand.
The family was overjoyed at their daughter’s bravery and attitude the entire time. Laura explained, “We had a little tea party for her with cake. We’re so proud of her. What she’s been through has been heartbreaking.” Although her daughter is free and will continue to visit the hospital for checkups, the lessons learned over the past three years remain fresh in Laura’s mind.
She said, “It made me appreciate the little things in life, and we just want to offer that same hope to other parents who might be going through the same thing. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep going.” Indeed, Isla May’s story has inspired many people from around the world. A few hours ago, the Mirror shared her health story on their Facebook page, and many people hopped into the comment section bearing supportive messages.
“So pleased for you. What a beautiful girl. So glad she kept fighting back. So nice to have a happy ending. I do like a happy ending.
Onwards and upwards, sweetheart. Beautiful little girl. Breaks my heart reading about cancer when so young, but so glad this little girl came back fighting.” Isla May’s cancer story shows that a positive mindset can beat the deadliest disease. The now five-year-old was surrounded by people who were persistent in their support and never wavered in doubt, even when it would have been easy to.
Thankfully, the Dunns never witnessed her funeral. Instead, they were blessed with the news that made their year.