Edinburgh Zoo pandas: Schoolgirl battling brain tumour fundraising to fulfil dream of seeing pandas in Edinburgh

Luciee’s biggest wish is to see the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo
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The family of an 11-year-old girl who is battling an incurable brain tumour is fundraising to help make her dream of seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo come true.

Little Luciee Taylor was diagnosed with the tumour back in December, after she started complaining of headaches and sensitivity to light. Her parents Harley and Nikki suspected she may have been suffering from a migraine but when her legs began to feel weak and she was found drowsy and unresponsive a few days later, Harley took her to A&E. It was there that a doctor sent her for a CT scan and discovered a mass on her brain which required emergency surgery.

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"It was frightening but naively I thought she would have surgery, they would remove whatever it was and she would recover fine,” said mum Nikki. "But when they were explaining the surgery, I asked them what the worst case scenario would be and they said that she could pass away. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that.”

Luciee Taylor, who has an incurable brain tumour, hopes her dream of seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo will come trueLuciee Taylor, who has an incurable brain tumour, hopes her dream of seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo will come true
Luciee Taylor, who has an incurable brain tumour, hopes her dream of seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo will come true

Luciee, who lives in Derby and attended Derby Moor Academy before she became ill, underwent the first surgery on December 10 but, as it was unsuccessful, she was told she required a second one the following day. “They sent her for another scan and because of the pressure in her brain, she had many seizures every time they moved her,” said Nikki. "The doctors gave us a choice. They would make her comfortable and she would pass away in a couple of days or we could decide to send her into the second surgery there and then and risk her passing away that day.”

But Luciee defied the odds and came out of the second surgery, despite having to be on a ventilator for a few weeks. She is now having radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try and slow the growth of the tumour, and she also attends physiotherapy sessions to help with the weakness in her legs.

And although the family have been told that the schoolgirl’s side effects to the treatments are set to worsen, Nikki said Luciee has been so brave throughout it all. “Her hair loss is really noticeable now but she just accepts it and says it’s only hair,” she said. “I’m so amazed by how brave she has been. She has taken everything in her stride and just accepted it. She has endured numerous blood tests, electrocardiogram tests and she has even had her head drained of fluid. She has been so brave, much braver than I would ever be. Everyone that knows Luciee has commented on how brave she is.”

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The family, including Luciee’s five siblings Lewis, 20, Kyle, 18, Lucas, nine, Miley, nine, and three-year-old Leo, are now focusing on filling the time they have left with the youngster with beautiful memories and things she’ll enjoy.

"That’s the only thing I can do now,” said Nikki. “She loves animals, especially pandas, so she has been making a list of all the different zoos and safaris we could visit. She has found some really good animal experiences like walking with wolves but her number one thing is visiting the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. She watches the panda cam all the time online.

"I did panic a little when I read they were going back to China. I can’t wait to take her to Edinburgh to see them when she’s well enough. She is quite excited to see the baby koalas as well. Just like the pandas, she has never seen them in real life.”

A fundraising page has been set up to help Luciee fulfil her dreams of seeing the animals up close and almost £7,000 has already been raised thanks to donations from more than 300 people. The family’s local pub is also hosting a fundraiser.

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"I didn’t expect so much to be raised for her as everyone is struggling at the moment with the cost of living,” said Nikki. “But still people have been so kind and supportive. I can never thank everyone enough. The support and kind donations will forever be appreciated. Luciee knows people are raising money for her to do all the animal things she wants to do. She’s very young so she has no idea how poorly she actually is but she just always says it’s so kind that people are doing it for her.”

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