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Alberta family fundraising to take five-year-old to U.S. for cancer treatment

At just five years old, Arya McDougall-MacLaine has had to endure more medical treatment than most people do in their entire lives.

The Calgary girl was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago and has since undergone exhaustive treatment. She has had five surgeries, 14 MRI’s, three lumbar punctures, 63 rounds of radiation to her brain and 60 rounds of radiation to her spine.

Canadian doctors kept her cancer stable for 11 months, but she then relapsed with tumours in her brain and spine.

Having run out of options in Canada, her family is now raising $25,000 to take her to the United States for experimental treatment.

“There is currently no known chemotherapy that is effective for Arya’s particular type of tumour, and the location of the original tumour in Arya’s brain has been radiated twice, so if her tumour recurs in the same location…, there is no further standard-of-care treatment that she can have here in Canada,” Arya’s mother, Petra McDougall, wrote on a GoFundMe campaign website started to raise money for her treatment.

The clinical trials that Arya has qualified for use immunotherapy — an alternative to chemotherapy that looks to boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

McDougall added that Arya’s quality of life has been fantastic over the past year and that the girl has been able to live actively, attending kindergarten, gymnastics, swimming and horseback riding.

As of Thursday afternoon, the family had raised more than $17,000 of its goal. The money will go towards medical fees, flights, accommodation, and transportation while the family is away from home.

Before the family travels to the U.S., Arya’s parents are planning to take her for a 50-night camping trip this summer while the girl is still asymptomatic.

“We’d just like to do a lot of fun things with her this summer knowing that she’s asymptomatic right now and very happy and energetic and we don’t know how long that will last,” McDougall told CTV News.

To read more about Arya’s story, click here.