Little Oliver Welch is described by his dad as the ‘happiest, most fun-loving boy you can imagine – a real joy to be around’. He loves lego, Disney films and superheroes like The Flash!
But on his third birthday, he was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a particularly aggressive childhood cancer, devastating his family.
No family deserves to go through this horrible journey and Oliver’s must do it twice. During his treatment, baby sister Eva was also diagnosed with (intermediate-risk) neuroblastoma.
Almost 50% of children diagnosed will relapse at some point, and when that happens, less than one in ten survive.
Oliver is accessing treatment in New York that’s showing promise in reducing the chances of relapse. His family is raising funds in case Oliver needs further treatment.
Leading up to the summer in 2017 Oliver became a little less himself and at times seemed a little sadder. He had less energy and started waking up at night upset.
“We thought he was a bit unsettled because we had just had a new baby but then we noticed he was falling over occasionally and not wanting to walk for long distances. We began to worry,” says Louise, Oliver’s mum.
His parents took him to the doctors who at first didn’t think there was anything wrong. After a few days they returned, still worried about him and this time they were referred to their local hospital.
A large tumour was found in his chest and Oliver was transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital. After several tests, Oliver was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma on his third birthday. The cancer had spread to other areas of his body.
“Nothing could have prepared us for finding out that our beautiful little boy had cancer,” says Louise. “When the doctor sat us down to see the X-Ray of his chest with the tumour for the first time it made me feel instantly sick and faint.”
After Oliver was diagnosed he began eight rounds of chemotherapy: “ It made him sick at times but really his personality started to shine through again and we began to get our Oliver back, and our hope back.”
Chemo worked well and got rid of most of the cancer. Then major surgery to remove the remaining primary tumour was followed by high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Oliver has since had five rounds of immunotherapy and 14 rounds of radiotherapy.
“Throughout the whole ordeal, Oliver has dealt with everything with amazing bravery and positivity. It amazes us how happy and spirited Oliver has remained despite the awful things he’s had to go through,” continues Louise.
Little sister, Eva
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer, with around 100 new cases each year in the UK.
It’s tough enough receiving one neuroblastoma diagnosis, but the Welch’s have had to deal with it twice.
They were told Eva had intermediate-risk neuroblastoma in October 2017 and she has received chemotherapy, as well as having two surgeries.
“We couldn’t believe that both our children have had to deal with this awful disease,” says Louise. “Sometimes we think about the odds and how life can be so cruel, but we’re just determined to fight for both of them and keep our little family together.”
“Oliver understands that Eva has almost the same thing that he has. It’s really amazing watching how he’s cared for her, despite going through the same awful experience.”
Oliver completed frontline treatment in late 2018 and his family are accessing the Bivalent Vaccine clinical trial at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York through funds raised independently – a treatment that’s shown promise in reducing the chances of relapse.
They are continuing to raise funds in case Oliver needs further treatment following the Vaccine in New York.
“We just hope that he continues to be well so that we can watch him grow up and continue to be our joyful little boy,” says Louise.
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.
To donate by text, send “OLIVERWELCH” followed by any whole amount up to £20 to 70085. This will cost your donation plus your standard network charge. It won’t matter if you leave a space before the number, if you include a ‘£’ sign or whether you use upper or lower case.
Download our free Oliver resources below, to support your fundraising, and CLICK HERE for even more resources, including fundraising ideas, templates and guidance.
If you’d like help supporting Oliver’s campaign, please get in touch with the fundraising team on 0207 284 0800 and firstname.lastname@example.org.