A young girl’s joy of starting high school turned to despair when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer – just 24 hours later.
Kirsten Fajardo, 11, remains “strong and upbeat” despite the shock news she is suffering from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) – an aggressive cancerous tumour.
The youngster, who was head girl at primary school, had been complaining of headaches, vomiting and blurred vision since June but her condition rapidly deteriorated.
Kirsten, described by former teachers as an “exemplary” student, had been looking forward to her first day at high school but complained of double vision in both eyes.
Luckily, year seven pupil Kirsten was due to attend an appointment at a hospital eye clinic later that same day on September 4.
A problem with her left eye was detected and the following day Kirsten had an urgent MRI scan at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorks.
The scan revealed a cancerous tumour on Kirsten’s brain stem and she was transferred to Leeds Children’s Hospital for further tests.
Her anxious mother Liza Fajardo and father Jeffrey, both 43, were told the devastating news that the large tumour is inoperable on September 6.
Kirsten, who is now using a wheelchair, has been too ill to return to Outwood City Fields after spending just one day there.
She is set to undergo six weeks of radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy treatment to shrink the tumour and improve her symptoms which started on Monday (Sept 23) this week.
Mrs Fajardo, 43, who also has a 19-year-old son called Sean, added: “She is a very sweet girl and caring and loving.
“When I’m sad she will comfort me. She loves to hug and hugs everyone.
“She is very close to her brother Sean. Her brother is like me, he is heartbroken too. I’m exhausted, but I just need to stay strong for her.
“She is very brave.”
Mrs Fajardo, who works as a trainee advance clinical practitioner at Pinderfields, is from the Philippines.
She said Kirsten, who was born in Wakefield, would love to travel to the Philippines to see her family again if she is well enough.
Friends have launched a crowdfunding appeal to help Kirsten and her family. The appeal has so far raised more than £9,000.
Mrs Fajardo, of Eastmoor, said: “Her only wish is to fly to the Philippines to see all her relatives.”
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/kirsten039s-journey