Oliver is a happy, cheeky and brave six-year-old boy who loves spending time and playing with his little brother and cousins. He’s a big lego fan and absolutely loves Star Wars!
But Oliver was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in the first week of 2016. Following lengthy treatment and despite achieving remission, devastatingly Oliver relapsed in January 2018. When the cancer returns the chances of survival drop to less than 10% and treatment options can become more limited.
His family and clinician identified immunotherapy treatment (Hu3f8) in Barcelona as the next best option and thanks to your amazing support raising £203,000 for Oliver’s first appeal, he flew to Spain to begin treatment on January 1st, 2019. It means he’s currently free from any active disease, which is amazing news!
But his journey is far from over. Oliver’s chances of relapsing again are very high, and his family are desperate to access treatment in New York that’s showing promise in reducing the likelihood of the cancer coming back. They are appealing for your help to raise £235,000 by June 2019.
“We’re absolutely overwhelmed and astounded at the support we’ve had. Thank you to each and every one of you,” say Jo and Matthew, Oliver’s mum and dad.
“The amount of money we need to raise in such a short space of time is daunting, to say the least, but we simply can’t put a price on our little boy’s life. We’ll do whatever it takes to get him the best treatment available and we feel confident we’ll be getting that in New York.”
Towards the end of 2015, Oliver began to feel unwell and started complaining his knees were hurting. During December he also developed severe tummy pain and visited his GP on several occasions. On New Year’s Eve, he was so unwell that he had to go to the hospital.
The next few days were full of blood tests and investigations. The family were transferred to Southampton General Hospital where they were given the devastating news that Oliver had stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma – the cancer had spread from his abdominal tumour into his bone and bone marrow.
“It was unbearable news that no-one ever imagines hearing about their son or daughter. We felt numb, disbelieving and had an overwhelming sense of fear over what the future held, plus the possibility that we could lose our little boy,” says mum Jo.
Oliver embarked on a gruelling 18-month treatment plan which began with ten rounds of intensive chemotherapy and an 8-hour surgery to remove the tumour. Oliver then had his stem cells harvested before undergoing high dose chemotherapy, after which he spent a number of weeks in isolation as he was so vulnerable to infection.
One risk of high dose chemotherapy is a condition called Venous Occlusive Disease (VOD), which can be fatal.
“Oliver did develop VOD and became incredibly unwell. One of the drugs given to help treat VOD also caused him to develop internal bleeding and he ended up spending over three months in hospital with several periods of time in intensive care and high dependency units,” says Jo.
No evidence of neuroblastoma
By the end of October 2016 and after three weeks of radiotherapy – scans showed Oliver to be completely free of the disease. As a result, he was included on an immunotherapy trial for five months and in May 2017 he was given the all clear!
Oliver started school in September 2017 and Jo says: “He was a little nervous at first, having had very little time at preschool, but by November was starting to settle in and gain confidence.” Sadly, it was all about to change though.
In December 2017 Oliver began to feel unwell again and in the New Year, one of the glands in his neck became very enlarged.
“We were naturally concerned about his symptoms and took him to see his Oncology Consultant in Southampton. On 24th January it was confirmed that Oliver had suffered a relapse. It was heartbreaking to think our little boy would have to, again, endure the horrors of cancer, the treatment it entails and all the dreadful side effects,” says Jo.
Oliver responded very well to 11 months of chemotherapy but with some disease left in his bone marrow, his family and clinician identified immunotherapy treatment (Hu3f8) in Barcelona as the best option to clear the remaining disease. Thanks to your amazing support in raising £203,000, Oliver had this treatment successfully in early 2019.
“The antibody is far less toxic than chemotherapy and has no long-term side effects, which has been a significant concern to us throughout Oliver’s treatment. We also understood the antibody would help to prepare Oliver’s immune system for a vaccine that we now hope to access,” say Jo and Matthew.
Oliver’s fundraising campaign
Thanks to your amazing support, Oliver flew to Spain to begin treatment in January 2019. But his journey is far from over.
Oliver’s chances of relapsing again are very high and his family is fundraising for Oliver to access the Bivalent Vaccine clinical trial at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. This treatment is showing promise in reducing the chances of the cancer coming back and is not available on the NHS.
They are appealing for your help to raise £235,000 to give Oliver the best chance of remaining cancer-free.
How you can help
There are many ways you can help Oliver: by making a personal donation; holding a fundraising event; getting sponsored to take on a challenge; or simply by following and sharing Oliver’s story through his Facebook page, Twitter profile, or Instagram.
Download our free Oliver resources (below) to support your fundraising, and CLICK HERE for even more resources, including fundraising ideas, templates and guidance.
You can make a donation via this page, or if you’d prefer to text donate, text OLWA99 and your amount £1 – £10 to 70070.
If you’d like help supporting Oliver’s campaign, please get in touch with the fundraising team on 0207 284 0800 and email@example.com.