Oliver was a happy baby and Natalie his Mum enjoyed those early months. As Oliver approached his first birthday in 2009, Natalie noticed he was holding objects very close to his face. She decided to take him to the Doctors to have him checked over. She was told three times there was nothing wrong with him and certainly nothing to be concerned about with his eye sight.
As Oliver’s mum, Natalie was not convinced with the medical opinion and changed her doctor. With a new doctor came a new opinion; there was something wrong with Oliver and he was referred to an eye specialist.
Natalie says it was such a relief to know that someone was listening to her and sharing her belief that there was something wrong but at the same time, taking Oliver to the appointment was very emotional. Natalie says “I wanted to find out what was wrong with my son but in my head the worst that could have happened was an operation on his eye and a patch.”
Unprepared for the news to follow, Natalie recalls the moment Oliver saw the specialist; “The specialist saw a tumour behind Oliver’s eye, in his head. I was told that the tumour had squashed his optic nerve in his eye which in turn made him blind. This was difficult and upsetting to take in.”
That following day Oliver and Natalie were called to Kings College Hospital in London for more tests. As the months went by so did additional tests until in the end, the family were referred to the Royal Marsden as doctors knew there was an underlying problem.
Further tests and scans at the Royal Marsden revealed, devastatingly, that Oliver not only had a tumour in his head but 4 other tumours in his spine, pelvis, leg and stomach. The medical team explained to Natalie that her little boy had neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma is a particularly aggressive form of childhood cancer and the most common cancer outside the brain in children under 5 years old. In most cases it is only diagnosed when it has already progressed to a late ‘high risk’ stage.
Natalie reflects and says “As we sat down with the doctors I just couldn’t understand how I had missed that my son had cancer.”
Oliver had shown no signs or symptoms of any kind.
“So now we knew Oliver had neuroblastoma with 5 tumours in his body, but we were scared about what was going to happen next” says Natalie.
Oliver’s harsh treatment regime began immediately with chemotherapy but over the last few years he has endured stem cell harvest, high dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Oliver then went on to receive immunotherapy; he was the first ever child to receive it at the Royal Marsden.
Whilst there have been many tears and tantrums and lots of time spent in hospital, Oliver has remained a happy, independent boy.
Natalie says “Oliver still has the tumour in his head and has never achieved remission but the tumour remains stable. Oliver has regular check-ups to monitor change so that they can be picked up early.”
Oliver has been left with side effects from the cancer and the treatment. He is now registered blind and walks with a white cane and wears hearing aids due to the damage caused by chemotherapy.
Despite this Natalie explains “Oliver really enjoys life and doesn’t let his disabilities hold him back in anyway at all. Oliver has always been told if he wants to try something then he can and to never think of himself as any different to any other little boy.”
Oliver’s family are fundraising for SKC to help Oliver and children like him Through Oliver’s Journey, SKC can help Oliver access further treatment should he need it; treatment which may not yet be available in the UK.
“Oliver loves super heroes, football and rough and tumble with his cousins and all the other things every little boy loves to do. He also loves spending time with his Nanny and Grandad,” says Natalie.
Please make a donation to SKC to help Oliver and children like him. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a difference. If you can help by holding a fundraising event to raise funds, please contact the fundraising team at the NCCA UK on 020 7284 0800
To make a donation to Oliver’s Journey you can visit:
To donate via your mobile phone text OLSM88 and your amount (£1 – £10) to 70070