A MAUCHLINE couple are doing everything in their power to give their daughter a fighting chance after a devastating cancer diagnosis.

Scott and Natalie Bolton's worlds were turned upside down at the start of the year when their three-year-old daughter Ava was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma.

According to the Kids Cancer Project, neuroblastoma is the leading cause of cancer death in children under the age of five.

Young Ava is currently four months into an 18-month treatment plan to tackle the disease.

Recalling what it was like when Ava was diagnosed, dad, Scott said: "We noticed Ava was not her usual self on her third birthday and over the Christmas period that followed.

"She was lethargic, pale and vomiting.

Cumnock Chronicle: Scott and Natalie want to send Ava for vaccination treatment in New York.Scott and Natalie want to send Ava for vaccination treatment in New York. (Image: Scott and Natalie Bolton.)

"Bruising started to appear around her eyes despite no injury.

"Alarm bells rang and so we took Ava to our GP, who immediately referred her to our local hospital.

"The doctors initially told us they suspected something called 'transient erythroblastopenia of childhood' [TEC], that her blood counts were low because of an earlier virus, and that things would resolve on their own.

"We couldn’t help but feel relieved. But the haematologist reviewing Ava’s blood samples wanted to do further testing to rule out other causes. We were not prepared for what followed.

"Ava had her bone marrow sampled and the results showed abnormal cells which could be cancer.

"A CT scan confirmed our worst fears: Ava had a primary tumour on her back with secondaries on her shoulder, pelvis, hip and shin.

"We were told that she has Stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma. Our whole world collapsed.

"As well as suffering the effects of the chemotherapy, our little princess has also undergone numerous bone marrow procedures, blood transfusions, CT and MRI scans, nuclear MIBG scans, G-CSF injections and stem cell harvest."

Ava's mum and dad are now planning ahead for when the treatment finishes, as there remains a risk that she could relapse and the cancer could return.

Natalie and Scott, and Ava's brother Lucas, are now aiming to raise £250,000 to send the youngster to a new vaccination treatment in New York, once her current 18-month treatment cycle is complete.

Having only set up GoFundMe page to raise the money on Monday, they have already amassed donations worth £15,000.

Plans are being made for fund-raising events in the future to add to that total.

With more than a year to go of Ava's current treatment, Scott and Natalie say they're optimistic about the chances of raising the funds.

Scott added: "A new vaccination treatment is being trialled at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York. This treatment stops the neuroblastoma from returning.

"Unfortunately, it is not currently available in the UK, so we are fundraising to be able to take Ava to get this, or other progressive treatments which might be available once her cancer treatment is finished.

"The money that we raise will go towards getting Ava the treatment she desperately needs, improving her quality of life and supporting her and her family during this time.

"We are not normally people who would ask for help, but as a family we need to know we have done everything we can to give Ava the best chance of beating this.

"Any funds generously raised which are not required for Ava's treatment will be donated back into neuroblastoma research to help other children and families in need of help."

You can support Scott and Natalie's funding for Ava online at https://bit.ly/scottnatalieandava.