Seven-year-old Isla Caton is a real life little superhero who battled cancer for five years and in that time united two teams known for their fierce and bitter rivalry.
Hardened supporters will say there is nothing more important than football and their club, but this little girl from Stratford showed that love compassion and hope for the life for a child outweighs everything else.
We want to join the West Ham and Millwall Football clubs, and the hordes of fans from both sides to send out heartfelt sympathy to Isla’s family.
We have covered her sad but inspirational journey since the family was told in 2018 that she had just three months to live, having been diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer. She had become ill the year before and was being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The battle took her for specialist treatment in Barcelona, hope arrived when she told in March 2019 she was cancer free, but the disease returned and after even more treatment the family finally had to face the cruel truth in December last year that she would not go on.
On Isla’s last JustGiving page, her mum Nicola said: “We have now decided to spend our time making sure Isla has the most wonderful life we can give her and to make as many amazing memories as we can, so instead of fundraising for medical costs we now feel it’s time to give Isla as much happiness as humanly possible – if anyone deserves it, it’s our baby girl.”
She added: “Isla is a real life superhero and we pray with all we are that we can get her well, but for now we live for today and make that as magical as we can.”
And for the fans who raised thousands from both side of the Thames she had spread her own little bit of magic. The united front shows that despite the biggest of rivalries the fans have the biggest hearts. It will and should be her legacy; there will be a minute’s applause on Saturday but we hope that she is marked every year for years to come, that something lasting between the two club comes from this. What that will be is up to the fans. Rest in peace little Isla.