For ex-Thomas Coram and Ashlyns’ school pupil, Lucy Sweeney, there’s only one present she’d love to receive this Mother’s Day – and that’s to raise enough money to help her brave four-year-old son beat cancer after a devastating relapse.
A big campaign, called High Five for Ollie, is underway to raise the £600,000 needed to send brave Ollie to New York, where he could participate in a clinical trial.
Lucy and her husband, Gary, are desperate to give the best chance of survival after he was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, just before his second birthday in January 2019.
Lucy and Gary, who also haven an 18-month-old son, Jake, said: “We can’t even describe the feelings we felt when we were told. It was quite simply the worst day of our lives. No one can prepare you for it, but we had to accept it and be strong for Ollie.”
Shortly after receiving the shocking diagnosis, Ollie, a cheeky, happy go-lucky boy, underwent invasive and intensive treatment, including high-dose chemotherapy, 12 hours of surgery, stem cell harvest, radiotherapy and blood transfusions.
And initially the treatment did work with Ollie’s parents told in Spring 2020, there was no evidence of the disease.
Unfortunately, their joy was short lived. By July 2020, Ollie became unwell again and an MRI scan found his rare cancer had returned.
Undeterred, both parents remained incredibly strong. They explain: “We decided that no one was allowed to cry around him – if we felt ourselves feeling emotional, we left the room for a moment and just tried to be positive around him.”
More surgery followed for poor Ollie with around 10-20 per cent of the tumour removed. Then came more devastating news that the tumour was so aggressive it was unlikely he would survive.
Transferred to Keech Hospice in Luton, the family prepared themselves for the worse, but still Ollie fought on and weeks later, the family had the biggest surprise they could ever dare to dream of when doctors told them Ollie’s tumour was miraculously shrinking. Treatment continued and by January 2021, Ollie was once again in remission.
High Five For Ollie, named that way because the loving four-year-old is famous for giving out his High Fives) could mean he can participate in a clinical trial, Bivalent Vaccine. No other European hospital currently offers the vaccine either due to the current pandemic.
This trial aims to prevent the cancer coming back and it is showing some promising results in those patients who have suffered a relapse with 54 per cent remaining clear of the disease after the review period of 21 months and 90 per cent of the children in the study surviving.
Kind-hearted residents in and around Berkhamsted have already pulled together to raise more than £217k. Lucy says it would mean the world to them if anyone would like to make a donation.
She adds: “No parent should ever have to go through this painful journey we are living, and with your help and support, you could be saving Ollie’s life. “
If you would like to donate, go to Ollie’s fundraising page at solvingkidscancer.org.uk/appeal/ollie