Fundraiser launched to help family of Morecambe six-year-old with brain cancer

The family of a Morecambe schoolboy about to undergo invasive treatment in a bid to cure his brain cancer have turned to the local community for support.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 8:00 am
Stuart Ryder-Muir.
Stuart Ryder-Muir.

Stuart Ryder-Muir begins potentially life-saving Proton Beam Therapy at The Christie hospital in Manchester on Monday, in the hope it will reduce his cancer.

Stuart, who turns six today, Thursday, will undergo treatment five days a week for six weeks.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumour on July 15, after having been suffering with bouts of headaches and sickness following a fall at home.

Due the size of the tumour he was rushed to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for surgery the very next day.

This took more than 10 hours and it was thought surgeons had removed all of the tumour.

Unfortunately, his stitches burst due to fluid build-up and he ended up back in surgery.

After he was discharged, Stuart's mum Rebecca Muir was called in for his biopsy results the following day - and it was then that she was given the devastating news that Stuart had cancer.

"Hearing the words 'I'm really sorry but your son has Ependyoma grade 3 cancer', and then to be told they had not got it all out and he needed more surgery to remove the remaining tumour and seal his skull properly as his brain fluid was leaking," she said.

"This surgery has caused him behavioural issues as this is where the tumour was located. Then this little boy had to have a lumbar puncture and central line fitted.

"Thankfully his cancer has not spread as of yet."

Stuart then had to return to hospital for tests to be assessed to be treated with Proton Beam Therapy in the UK.

This specialist treatment, which is newly available in the UK, is a type of radiotherapy that uses a beam of high energy protons, rather than high energy x-rays, to treat specific types of cancer.

This could cause Stuart a number of side effects, including a high chance he will lose the sight in his right eye.

His speech and co-ordination have already been badly affected by the surgery.

After the Proton Beam Therapy, Stuart will undergo scans every three months for the foreseeable future.

If successful, he is unlikely to be given the all-clear until around 10 years have passed.

"They think they can cure him if he has the radiotherapy but they can't guarantee it so we don't want to count our chickens," Rebecca said.

"Stuart has already told me he is sick of it all and has had enough."

Stuart started at Trumacar Primary School last year, and, after an unsettled reception year due to Covid-19, he will now miss a large chunk of his first term in Year 1.

However, he will go into school for the day tomorrow to meet his new teacher and see his school friends before his treatment starts.

Rebecca said the last few weeks have been a massive struggle.

The single mum also has a seven-month-old daughter, and has had to juggle home life with Stuart's regular trips to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

She has been helped by her mum Diane Hodgson-Jackson, who has been driving them to and fro as well as taking on childcare responsibilities.

"We have had to go to Manchester for a few days every week for the last month," Rebecca, 29, said. "My mum has been driving us up and down the motorway and also looking after my daughter.

"Sometimes Stuart has to stay in hospital so I will stay with him."

Rebecca said the strain of the repeated travel as well as needing to stay in Manchester on some occasions is causing financial worry.

"The financial impact of living away from home and the number of times and stays in hospital I'm left with no option but to ask for people's help," she said.

"I need to make Stuart and his baby sister's life as normal as possible in this situation and to do that we need to live in Manchester for six to seven weeks.

"I'm looking to financially be able to support them and also bring them home every weekend when he's not having treatment.

"This little boy turns six four days before his treatment starts and I want to make it an amazing day."

You can donate to Stuart's cause online hereWickes in Morecambe are doing a sponsored walk from the Battery to Broadway on October 4 to raise funds for Stuart, as well as planning an in-store cake sale.

FACT FILE

Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy that uses a beam of high energy protons, which are small parts of atoms, rather than high energy x-rays (called “photons”) to treat specific types of cancer.

Proton beam therapy enables a dose of high energy protons to be precisely targeted at a tumour, reducing the damage to surrounding healthy tissues and vital organs which is an advantage in certain groups of patients or where the cancer is close to a critical part of the body such as the spinal cord.

Proton beam therapy is only suitable for certain types of cancer, such as highly complex brain, head and neck cancers and sarcomas as it does not lead to better outcomes for many cancer cases than using high energy x-rays, which is still considered the most appropriate and effective treatment for the majority of cancers.

Like high energy x-ray radiotherapy, proton beam therapy is painless, but patients may experience side effects similar to those experienced from other forms of radiotherapy.

Two NHS centres will provide high energy proton beam therapy in the UK, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust (Manchester) and University College London Hospital (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust.