Picture book tells tale of how Abigail won her battle for health

The Murray family - Abigail Murray, mother Samantha Murray and Alistair Murray, of Brookland Terrace. Mother and daughter have written a book about their experience of cancer.
The Murray family - Abigail Murray, mother Samantha Murray and Alistair Murray, of Brookland Terrace. Mother and daughter have written a book about their experience of cancer.

Abigail Murray was only five when doctors found a tumour behind her eye.

By then, her parents Samantha, 30, and Chris, 34, already suspected that she had inherited the genetic disorder NF-1 from her mum’s side of the family.

NF-1, or neurofibromatosis type I, causes non-cancerous tumours to grow in the body.

Because of the location of Abigail’s tumour, doctors were unable to remove it surgically without risking her sight.

However, although it will always be there, the tumour has now been shrunk so much by 18 months of intense chemotherapy that Abigail, of Brookland Terrace in New York, no longer needs treatment.

The New York Primary School pupil wants to be an author when she’s older, and, with the help of her mum, she has put together a 12-page book about her experiences.

The Little Princess Who Lost Her Hair, featuring drawings by Abigail, tells her story from a child’s point of view.

All proceeds will go to Clic Sargent and Pathways 4 All, two charities that helped the family – since expanded by the arrival of another child, Alistair, two – during the youngster’s illness.

Abigail remembers falling ill in February 2008.

She said: “I wasn’t feeling quite well. Once I woke up and had a headache, and I felt sick.

“I told my mam, then she rang the doctor.

“I had a check-up, and she said that I needed a picture behind my head to see if I had a lump. She said it was behind my eye.

“It was scary because it was giving me headaches.”

Every Friday, Abigail had chemotherapy at Newcastle General Hospital through a tube she had fitted in her arm.

“When I got my medicine, it was in a massive machine,” recalled Abigail.

“I had a little one, and once it was finished, my nurse Maureen, who has the same colour hair as me, put another one on.

“Once I got to go to the Great North Museum in Newcastle after, and I remember going to McDonald’s once when I was having my brain tumour.

“Sometimes I wasn’t feeling quite well, so I couldn’t go to school, but my mam read lots of stories and made me feel better.

“When I was in hospital, I made two friends who were the same as me – Charlotte and Daisy.

“Every time I went there, I would draw a picture for Charlotte, and she made me a picture, which I have in my room.”

Abigail enjoys cheerleading in her spare time, and her favourite subjects in school include maths, literacy, science and art.

Though she is no longer undergoing chemotherapy, she still goes for regular check-ups.

“Sometimes I have to have time off school to have an MRI scan,” she said. “My next MRI is in 12 weeks, I think.

“Now I have to go to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

“The RVI is quite nice, and I made lots of friends.

“I met a little girl called Grace while I was there, and I read her lots of stories.”

Samantha, a full-time mum, said: “We always wanted to write about our experiences, so that other children going through the same situation could understand about it.

“We wanted to raise money for Pathways 4 All, who are building a centre at the Rising Sun Country Park in Wallsend, with things like a soft-play area.

“They have helped us so much, with support and little grants, and Clic Sargent have also supported us.

“It was a really hard time for us. I found out I was pregnant with Alistair at the time.

“I felt that I just couldn’t cope, and I wanted to walk away, but I couldn’t.

“But I met lots of other parents who understood, and we’ve made some really good friends, and they helped us through it.”

The Little Princess Who Lost Her Hair costs £2 and can be ordered by e-mailing sam murray@blueyonder.co.uk