Miracle as girl, 3, recovers from brain tumour after it simply disappears

Fay Schlesinger


13:45 GMT, 24 August 2012

When Liberty Rose Finn's little body could take no more gruelling chemotherapy to fight her inoperable brain tumour, the three-year-old's parents feared the worst.

The benign growth behind her eyes threatened to leave the toddler blind and carried the risk of brain damage and stunted development.

But nearly a year after her treatment was stopped, Liberty's family were left stunned after the tumour vanished.

Liberty Finn with her mother Rose

Liberty Finn with her mother Rose. Doctors cannot explain how she recovered so well from a brain tumour that was sending her blind

The mass, which enclosed her optic nerves and left her sight
severely restricted, has shrunk so much it longer appears on scans.

Liberty has regained much of her vision and doctors have described her rare recovery as 'very encouraging'.

The toddler and her twin sister Destiny Mai seemed healthy when they were born in December 2006.

But six weeks later their parents Carl, a charity campaigner, and Dawn noticed Liberty's eyes rolling back in her head.

A consultant diagnosed nystagmus, or involuntary eye movement.

But further tests at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham revealed
that the condition was caused by an optic chiasm glioma – a benign
growth that was wrapped around nerves between Liberty's brain and eyes,
affecting her vision.

Her parents were told the mass of nerve tissue could never be removed because of its size and sensitive location.


Tumour girl

Before: An MRI scan of Liberty's skull shows the tumour just behind the frontal lobe of her brain

In October 2007, when she was just ten months old, Liberty began 18
months of chemotherapy and a cocktail of drugs as part of a medical
trial by the International Society for Paediatric Oncology.

By the end of the treatment, a scan showed the tumour had shrunk by 50 per cent.

But the chemotherapy programme had come to an end and Liberty was so ill that she stopped all treatment.

She still risked a life of blindness and further complications if the tumour grew back to its original size.

But last week a scan showed that the tumour had all but disappeared,
due to a combination of 'spontaneous regression' and the after-effects
of the treatment.

Mrs Finn, 32, from Burton in Derbyshire, said: 'We went into the
hospital expecting to be told that the tumour had either grown or
stayed stable.

'We never in our wildest dreams expected that it would have just vanished.

‘I felt like I was floating in a dream. The tumour that had looked so large before had just gone.

Tumour girl

After: A scan of the youngster's skull shows how the tumour miraculously disappeared

'I had to ask the doctor over and over again, “Is this Liberty, are you sure”'

She added: 'Carl and I were speechless at first, but when I phoned my mum to tell her the news I just broke down.

‘It feels like Liberty is one in a million because her own body fought against the tumour.

'She's adored by everybody that she meets and I wouldn't change her for the world.

‘It's amazing to give hope to other parents of children with the same tumour, showing miracles can happen.'

Liberty now faces a bright future with her twin sister, brother Alex, 15, and seven-year-old sister Gemma Louise.

She will still continue to have six-monthly scans, but these may become annual depending on her progress.

Professor Richard Grundy, of Queens Medical Centre, said: 'Whether
the chemotherapy has achieved such progress or whether Liberty's body
has done it alone is not the most important thing in this case.

Either way she is a very lucky girl, as chemotherapy is often not
effective in optic chiasm gliomas and sight can be hard to restore.

'But Liberty has had an extremely good response, both in terms of
her disease shrinking dramatically but also with an improvement in her

'We're delighted at the latest scan which shows even further
reduction to the tumour despite being nine months post chemotherapy.

‘Although there are still signs of sporadic areas of diseased tissue
it is extremely encouraging that the central mass of tumour is no
longer present.'

Roz Osborne, of the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, added: 'The
tumour could have disappeared through divine intervention or the fact
that Liberty's body was so strong and fought off the cancer.

'Chemotherapy loses its effectiveness after a few months of treatment being finished so its shelf life would have expired.

‘It just highlights how much we don't know about brain cancer.'