Family and friends of a six-year-old girl from Victoria, who is fighting cancer for the third time, are appealing for help to raise $400,000 – the cost of potentially life-saving treatment only available in the United States.
On 5 October, doctors confirmed that Ivy Steel, who was diagnosed with a rare subtype of Leukemia (Philadelphia Chromosome Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) in 2013, had relapsed once again.
The heartbreaking news arrived on the first anniversary of the six-year-old's bone marrow transplant, which she received from her little brother Van, 4.
In a post to their Facebook page, "Ivy's Army" on Sunday, Ivy's mother Jenna Steel, issued an "official call to arms." Sharing that the family had been dealt a devastating blow, Ms Steel wrote, "We need your help."
The number one, and most effective treatment for Ivy – which would not only give her the best chance of survival but a possible cure – is not available in Australia.
"Frankly, Ms Steel wrote, "this is an absolutely cruel, heart breaking kick to the guts."
The treatment Ivy requires is known as chimeric antigen receptor ("CAR") T-Cell therapy– a procedure she could undergo at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The cost of the treatment is around $400,000.
"I know this sounds like a lot, believe me I know," Ms Steel added. "But I would not be putting this out there if we had any other viable option."
Despite questioning and pleading and exploring all other avenues, travelling to Philadelphia and raising the money for Ivy's treatment is the only chance they have.
"It is important you know this, we are not chasing rainbows," Ms Steel wrote. "This is a real, tangible, trialed and most importantly, proven treatment option for children in Ivy's position."
Tragically, it just isn't available in Australia.
Ms Steel believes that with the help of the community, they have the chance to save Ivy's life. "I have to believe this is achievable. We have to try..."she said.
Asking Ivy's Army to spread the word about her daughter, Ms Steel wrote that while she is neither stupid nor naïve, she is desperate.
"I am pleading with you all to please help us by sharing Ivy's page, sharing this post, share old posts, share all our posts, talk to your friends, to your boss, talk to everyone who will listen about what we are trying to do, as we need all of Australia to know the name, Ivy Steel."
Ivy is currently in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne suffering from Mucositis – an extremely painful side effect of chemotherapy. "Having witnessed this many times before, it tears my heart to pieces to see my baby go through this yet again," Ms Steel wrote. "It is just so cruel. There is only so much you can inflict on a child before it breaks your soul and theirs."
Determined to do whatever it takes, Ms Steel added that she needs her child – and she won't give up
"I need her to beat this bastard disease again and live," she wrote. "But this is her last chance. I will beg, on my knees with my broken heart open to the world for someone to please help us. I refuse to stand by and let my child die simply because of where we live, poor timing and our lack of financial resources."
Ivy, she describes, has endured so much in her short life – fighting long and hard.
"She is the epitome of strength, bravery and resilience," Ms Steel wrote, "but this is one fight she can not take on alone."
Since the post was shared on Sunday, Ivy's Army has raised an astonishing $311,682 as of Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Ms Steel shared that Ivy's condition had deteriorated, causing a snowball effect of complications for her brave little girl. Ivy, she said, was in such severe pain she was biting her own arms. "I can handle a lot," Ms Steel said, "but what we have experienced in the last few days has been nothing short of the most horrific thing we have ever experienced."
After an emergency procedure in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Ivy is now resting. "After over three days and nights of her literally screaming in pain for hours on end, she in now asleep," Ms Steel wrote.
Thanking Australians for the outpouring of love, support and generosity, the Hamilton mother described the response to her plea as "instantaneous and miraculous".
"It hardly seems adequate," she wrote, "but all our family can do is continue to thank you all for what you have managed to do for us."
Please find information regarding donations here.