DESPITE being just eight years old, Molly-Ann Burford’s existence is far from care free.

As a budding horse rider she should be enjoying her hobby, as well as giggling uncontrollably with friends and looking forward to finding a pound under her pillow after wiggling out a baby tooth.

Instead, her life is clouded by uncertainty and pain and she lives under the spectre of a rare, life-threatening illness.

She frequently has to endure long, mind-numbing motorway journeys to specialist medical facilities for treatment.

The muddy playgrounds which should be shaping her outlook are now the pin drop quiet waiting areas in the hospitals she visits, and her playmates are the doctors and nurses fighting to give her a future.

Molly-Ann is battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which impacts only 790 people every year and progresses quickly and aggressively.

It means instead of playing with friends and enjoying school, like every other eight year old, she has a new way of life, which has become a necessity.

Mum Michelle, 41, and her husband, Matt, 44, were given the terrible news of Molly-Ann’s diagnosis eight weeks ago.

She said: “Our lives suddenly changed.

“We drove home to Clacton, packed some things, said goodbye to our other children and left them staying with my parents.

“We then drove to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridgeshire, where Molly-Ann started treatment straight away.”

Molly-Ann, a sister to her 18-year-old brother, and 11-year-old and 14-year-old sisters, has since endured a succession of harsh treatments designed to nurse her back to good health.


But such is her resilience, she has overcome everything from blood and platelet transfusions to steroid-induced diabetes, constant bone marrow and lumpar punch tests to chemotherapy, as well as a gruelling portacath operation.

It has been a mental and physical struggle for the Holland Haven School pupil and one which has only been made tougher for everyone involved given the restrictions placed on her due to coronavirus.

“The process was harder because Molly could only have one parent with her,” added Michelle.

“Matt stayed in the onsite accommodation but he wasn’t allowed to visit Molly on the ward due to coronavirus.

“The nurses let him speak to her in the garden once so we could explain what was going on.

“Molly then spent two weeks at Addenbrooke’s having intense treatment.

“I was devastated and I felt all alone, and I could not leave Molly for one minute because she was scared.

“I felt like I had to process so much information on my own.”

Prior to her diagnosis, Molly-Ann had visited Colchester Hospital on three separate occasions.

Michelle had grown concerned after her daughter’s temperature soared, she started feeling tired and she developed crippling pains in her muscles which impacted her ability to walk.

The NHS says acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is caused when immature white blood cells are released into the bloodstream.

But Michelle now wants to raise awareness of the cancer’s symptoms and causes so parents can ensure their children are diagnosed as early as possible should they contract the illness.

“It was very hard for us because it was difficult to diagnose, although I knew she was really poorly,” Michelle added.

“She has never really been ill before. In her whole life, I think she had only been to the doctor’s three times before.

“We need to fundraise as much as possible for research into cancer and raise awareness and I want to help Addenbrooke’s too because they are great.

“I have already taken loads of donated toys to the hospital’s bravery boxes because children need rewards for being brave and the more we can give the better.”

Molly-Ann now has to revisit Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Colchester Hospital twice a week for continued treatments and check-ups - all of which Molly-Ann is defiantly and inspirationally taking in her stride.

Michelle said: “She is sick but she is coping very well and is responding well to treatment, for which I am thankful.

“But she has had to grow up pretty quick.”

To donate to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, go to