The mum of a young West Ham fan battling a rare form of cancer has thanked Millwall fans for coming to her aid.
Lions supporters set aside their fierce rivalry with the Hammers to help raise the £192,000 needed to send little Isla Caton to America for a potentially life-saving vaccine.
The three-year-old is currently receiving treatment for neuroblastoma – the same rare childhood cancer that sadly claimed the life of young Sunderland supporter Bradley Lowery last year.
In a touching attempt to help the young Hammers fan, Millwall supporters asked to donate their ticket refunds from last month’s Leeds United match to her cause.
Speaking to the News, Isla’s mum Nicola said: “We literally can’t thank them enough.
“My family are life-long West Ham supporters and after all these years of the two sides hating each other, Isla’s come along and built a bridge.
“Cancer has got no colours because, at the end of the day, she’s a little girl and we just want people to realise how good football fans are because all you ever hear is bad things but in our opinion it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The support shown by Millwall and other teams is that the fans are just amazing and we will always be grateful to them.”
When Isla was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in March, her parents were told she had a 40 per cent survival rate.
But the youngster has incredibly fought back against the illness and now has a survival rate of 60 per cent.
Her family, which includes mum Nicola, 38, dad Michael, 48, and Isla’s seventeen-year-old sister, hope to send her to America for a bivalent vaccine which could help prevent her cancer from returning once she is in remission.
“She has had a horrendous time,” said Nicola, who had to give up her job as manager of a hair and beauty salon to care for Isla.
“She will continue to undergo chemotherapy for the next five months and once that is finished there’s no further treatment in the UK.
“With neuroblastoma there’s a 60 per cent relapse. If we beat it the first time we’ve got it hanging over us for the next ten years.
“We are fighting tooth and nail to raise this money to get her to America for this vaccine so she never has to go through this again.
“It’s a lot of money to raise – this is our baby’s life. Thank God people are willing to help us.
“We would not be where we are now with the fundraising if it wasn’t for Millwall, so we just want to say a big thank you.”
After a difference in price for the Leeds United match tickets on January 20, Millwall agreed to refund the difference per ticket, stating that any unclaimed refunds would go to Millwall Lionesses or the community trust.
However, fans got in touch with fan on the board Micky Simpson, asking if their refunds could instead be donated to Isla or young Leeds fan Toby Nye, who also has the same illness.
“I put that to the club and they agreed,” he said. “This is very rare for Millwall fans: to jump on to promoting a little West Ham fan is massive.”
Fans are asked to contact the club and specify whether they would like to receive their refund or donate it to Isla or Toby.
To donate to Isla’s campaign, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/islacaton
To learn more about Toby’s story, visit: https://twitter.com/TobyNye4