There are times when I feel bad, but Lord knows what this young girl is thinking of, because to me its very hard to accept this, she is so very young
Courage of the 12-year-old girl fighting dementia
- Charlea Armstead, from Oldham, has rare condition Niemann-Pick Type C
- It is slowly robbing Charlea of memory and mobility - and there is no cure
- She is one of only 82 people who currently have the disease in the UK
- Her mother Danielle Craig, 29, said she hopes there is a cure found soon
Like many girls her age, 12-year-old Charlea Armstead dreams of being a ballerina.
She is seldom happier than when she’s dancing around to her favourite pop star Justin Bieber, or cuddling up with her mother on the sofa watching a DVD.
But despite her tender years and lust for life, the smiling schoolgirl is battling the debilitating effects of dementia, a disease more commonly associated with the elderly.
Her very rare neurological condition, Niemann-Pick Type C, is making her old before her time.
It is gradually robbing her of memory and mobility, and causing her to suffer other indignities such as incontinence and confusion. There is currently no cure.
Yesterday her 29-year-old mother Danielle Craig, from Oldham, told of her daughter’s incredible bravery in a bid to raise awareness of the degenerative condition.
‘We don’t know when this cruel disease will take Charlea.
'We were told it could be two years or ten. Charlea is 12 and she’s still fighting. She never stops smiling,’ she said.
‘She has big dreams for a wonderful life. I just hope a cure is found soon so all her wishes come true.’
Charlea was born seemingly healthy, but at two weeks old she had to go to hospital after developing jaundice and a swollen stomach. Doctors then tested her for Niemann-Pick.
Miss Craig said: ‘The condition is so rare that a skin graft was taken from her arm and sent for analysis to France. It was six months before we got the devastating results.’
Charlea was eventually diagnosed as one of only 82 people who currently have the disease in the UK; there are thought to be just 500 cases worldwide.