Tribute to brave Welwyn Garden City four-year-old struck down by cancer

WHEN Hayley Costa’s healthy four-year-old daughter had a stroke in late October last year, her whole world fell apart.

Little Sophie was rushed to the QE2 Hospital, in WGC, and doctors fought to keep her alive.

But there was worse news to come.

It was while Sophie was in the intensive care unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), she was diagnosed with malignant Rhabdoid tumours, a very rare childhood cancer – causing tumours in her lungs, liver, kidneys, heart and brain.

Sophie died at Keech Hospice Care on Sunday, December 13.

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“Sophie was a completely healthy and happy little girl until the day of her stroke,” said Hayley, who lives with husband Kos and their two sons in Panshanger, WGC.

“She was a real ‘girly girl’, full of kisses and cuddles. She always had a smile on her face, even when she became very poorly and had to endure chemotherapy.

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“She never moaned. She was just amazing.”

At the time of her stroke, doctors diagnosed that the tumours were only a few weeks old, but they progressed rapidly.

The symptoms are so minor at first, the family could never have known she was ill.

Hayley’s condition deteriorated quickly and soon she couldn’t talk or move well.

After returning from GOSH, Keech stepped in, with carer Beth Moorley on hand to offer help at home.

“We had to administer so many different drugs to Sophie every four hours and it was a terrifying and nerve-wracking experience,” said Hayley. “I don’t know what we’d have done without the support that week while Sophie was at home.”

Hayley fondly remembers a special day, when Sophie had a burst of energy and played with her best friend, Mia.

After that day her health deteriorated and she was admitted to the Luton-based hospice.

“If I’m truthful, I was dreading taking Sophie to Keech.

“I was in a panic as she was so ill and not able to move any more.

“I had no idea what to expect. We really wanted to bring her home, but we just couldn’t cope with all her medication and special care needs.

“As soon as we walked through the door we knew it was the right place for Sophie to be.

“They were so helpful, so lovely.”

Within two days Sophie was more comfortable and in less pain, while Keech staff also looked after mum and dad and the family who never left her side.

The hospice made their last few days together “as special as possible”.

They made sure the family had many happy memories of Sophie, including given them a DVD of her with Father Christmas.

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