A three-year-old girl who won thousands of online followers as she battled leukemia died on New Year’s Day, her parents have announced.
Esme Handley was diagnosed when she was just 22 months old after developing a large bruise on a family holiday to Greece.
Her parents Rebecca and Will broke the heartbreaking news on Facebook page Esme Lionheart – so named because of her love of lions.
They said: ‘If you look to the sky tonight you will see a star shining brighter than any other.
‘Our darling girl went onwards with her journey at midday today. She was peaceful and in our arms and knew how ridiculously adored she was.
‘Esme Grace Angela Handley 13.08.2016 – 01.01.2020.’
Rebecca, 38, and Will, 43, faced a battle to try and save their only daughter following her diagnosis.
They discovered she had a high risk of acute myeloid leukaemia during a family trip to Greece. After Esme fell over an injury did not go away, and after Googling her symptoms, both parents became concerned.
She was taken to hospital in Greece where the diagnosis was confirmed.
Esme was given a stem cell transplant in September 2018 alongside three rounds of chemotherapy but after six months the leukaemia returned in the child’s bone marrow.
The family were not eligible for a second transplant on the NHS and were faced with raising $520,000 privately for the urgent treatment.
In November, her parents admitted that Esme could no longer expect to be cured and said their child had simply had enough.
They said: ‘Since diagnosis, we have often spoken about a metaphorical ”sealed envelope” that contains Esme’s fate. Yesterday we got to open that envelope and it was not what we had hoped.