Bedfordshire family appeal for the public's support to raise £400,000 to help their son beat cancer
The family have teamed up with the charity Solving Kids’ Cancer to help them raise the funds and access the potentially life-saving treatment
A family from Westoning are appealing for the public's support with fundraising to help their four-year-old son beat cancer.
For Lucy Sweeney, there’s only one present she dreams about receiving this Mother's Day – and that’s to raise enough money to help her brave four-year-old son, who loves fire engines, cars, planes and Fireman Sam, beat cancer after a devastating relapse.
Lucy and her husband, Gary, from Luton, need to raise at least £600,00 to give their little boy, Ollie, the best chance of survival after he was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, just before his 2nd birthday in January 2019.
Kind-hearted residents in and around Bedfordshire and beyond have already pulled together to raise more than £217,000.
The family have teamed up with the charity Solving Kids’ Cancer to help them raise the funds and access the potentially life-saving treatment.
Lucy 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.”
At the time of Ollie’s diagnosis his parents also found out they were expecting their second child Jake, who is now 18 months old.
Since diagnosis Ollie has undergone invasive and intensive treatment, including chemotherapy, high-dose chemotherapy, 12 hours of surgery, stem cell harvest, radiotherapy and numerous side effects from these treatments.
He has endured many blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, painkillers, antibiotics and so much more.
Throughout his treatment, Ollie has continued to smile and is known for giving out high fives which has led to his campaign name ‘High Five for Ollie’.
And initially the treatment did work with Ollie’s parents told in Spring 2020, there was no evidence of the disease.
Fundraising for Ollie to participate in a clinical trial, Bivalent Vaccine, was started shortly after his diagnosis.
Ollie was expected to travel to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York shortly after the end of his treatment, but due to the Covid 19 pandemic any arrangements for this treatment were delayed.
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% of the tumour removed. And then came more devastating news that the tumour was so aggressive it was unlikely he would survive.
He was transferred to Keech Hospice in Luton and 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.
His treatment continued and by January 2021, Ollie was once again in remission.
Now a big campaign – called High Five For Ollie - because the loving four-year-old is famous for giving out his High Fives - is underway to raise £600,000 needed to send Ollie to New York, where he could participate in a clinical trial, Bivalent Vaccine, as there is no additional treatment he needs available on the NHS.
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% remaining clear of the disease after the
review period of 21 months and 90% of the children in the study surviving.
Currently, Ollie’s chances of survival beyond five years are less than 10%.
Ollie’s parents are determined to do everything they can to give him the best possible chance of beating this awful disease.
Lucy says it would mean the world to them if anyone would like to make a donation, she said: “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."
Solving Kids’ Cancer fights for a future where no child dies of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma or suffers due to its treatment, for more about the organisation click here.
Jane Healy, Lucy's aunt, said: "We appreciate all the help and support from everyone, it means so much to the family."