Cancer patient, four, to head to New York for clinical trial after entering remission

Ava Bolton's family hope the new vaccination treatment will reduce the risk of her neuroblastoma returning.

Ava Bolton: Cancer patient, four, in remission to fly to New York for pioneering clinical trial

A four-year-old cancer patient has been enrolled in a pioneering clinical trial in New York, after entering remission following 18 months of gruelling treatment.

Ava Bolton, from Mauchline, Ayrshire, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at the start of 2023, shortly after her third birthday. 

The rare and aggressive form of cancer was found in 53 areas of her body. 

She was treated at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, undergoing intensive chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, immunotherapy, and more than a dozen rounds of radiotherapy. 

Now, she has been given the all-clear from specialists.

Ava Bolton was diagnosed with neuroblastoma shortly after her third birthday

Neuroblastoma has a high rate of recurrence. If a patient relapses, their chance of survival falls to just 5%. 

Ava’s parents, Scott and Natalie, have fundraised more than £330,000 since her diagnosis to secure her a place on a clinical trial in the US, which hopes to dramatically reduce the risk of relapse. 

Specialists there have developed a vaccination which helps the immune system to fight any return in neuroblastoma.

Now that Ava is in remission, the family are planning their first visit overseas. 

Mum, Natalie, said: “It’s still hard to think that 18 months ago, we had the devastating news that Ava had a 50/50 chance of beating her cancer, but she has absolutely smashed it and done us all so proud.

“She has been amazing throughout the full treatment process.

“We are forever grateful for all the support we have had and allowing us this opportunity for Ava to receive this additional treatment which will hopefully prevent her cancer from ever returning.”

The Boltons had previously spoken to STV’s Scotland Tonight about the impact of Ava’s diagnosis on their family, and their gratitude towards neighbours, local businesses, and strangers, for their help with fundraising. 

Natalie said: “[Telling Scott] was one of the most difficult phone conversations I have ever had. To tell my husband that our daughter had cancer was awful.

Ava will be flying to New York for a new vaccination trial

“You feel empathy for others, but you never, ever think it’s going to be you. And when you’re faced with that situation, it’s completely unexpected. It really does devastate you.”

The family will spend between four and six weeks in New York initially, with another eight trips to follow. 

Scott said: “There are families who are further down the line who are currently in New York going through the treatment plan.

“One family has been through it all and their daughter is now well past the five year survival and living a normal life.

“So there are the good stories, which are the ones we’re trying to focus on and be positive about, and hopefully Ava can be one of those stories.”

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