Horlick's daughter missed out on leukaemia cures

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The Independent Online
HAD NICOLA Horlick's 12-year-old daughter Georgina been born now, her chances of surviving cancer would have been far greater, the director of the Cancer Research Campaign said yesterday.

Professor Gordon McVie said that treatment for child leukaemia was one of the big medical success stories of recent years. The survival rate for children with the disease has risen to as much as eight in ten.

Yesterday it was revealedthat Georgina Horlick had lost her nine-year battle against leukaemia on Friday. Her mother, who has managed funds worth billions, said in an interview shortly before her daughter died: "I get so agitated when people go on about success and wealth. It's all completely irrelevant because I'd much rather have Georgie's health. It's something that all the brainpower, all the money you have ... nothing can put it right."

Within the past five years, it has become common practice to give children suffering from leukaemia a high dose of drugs and a bone-marrow transplant within a year of going into remission.

However, nine years ago, when Georgina was diagnosed, doctors tended to treat the disease with chemotherapy, but gave no follow-up drugs or bone-marrow transplant once the cancer cells had disappeared.

"We know from experience - and Georgina Horlick is a good example - that there may be the odd leukaemia cell lurking around the body after the chemotherapy. If we don't get every single cell out the leukaemia will come back and you have to start all over again. The cells are resistant to conventional drugs then, so it's quite a task."

Another important factor is the quality of drugs that were available when Georgina was first diagnosed, compared with those available now, he said.

Georgina, Mrs Horlick's eldest child, relapsed in 1995 and once again began chemotherapy. By the beginning of this year, however, it was apparent that more drastic action was required. Six months ago she had a bone marrow transplant to try to replace the mutated blood cells.

However, the transplant left her susceptible to illness and she died of a lung infection on Friday at Great Ormond Street hospital in London.

Mrs Horlick, 37, who entitled her autobiography: Can You Have It All?, became the City's most famous woman after she attempted to overturn her sacking from Morgan Grenfell Asset Management in January 1997 for alleged disloyalty.

She once recounted the story of a car-park attendant who worked close to Great Ormond Street. "He told me, `Mrs Horlick, I am a poor man and you are a rich woman. But I think really I am richer than you because my children are healthy.'

"I said to him, `You are quite right, it's nothing to do with money'."