A courageous boy who is being treated for cancer, attended a party honouring the strength of all youngsters diagnosed with the disease.
Ollie Bell (7) from Newtownabbey was a guest of honour at the Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens Star Awards party on July 10 held in partnership with TK Maxx at Bloomsbury Ballroom in London.
The talent show-themed event gave children and their families – many of whom have missed out on school plays and hobbies such as dancing and singing due to cancer treatment - a memorable experience together.
Ollie joined 20 children and young people from across the UK who were given VIP treatment during the action-packed day to celebrate their strength and courage and how far they have come since their diagnoses.
They took to a personalised ‘Walk of Fame’ with their names in stars and enjoyed activities including a magician’s workshop and acrobatic skills training, as well as practicing their dance moves.
The afternoon also saw a performance by CBeebies presenter Cat Sandion, before Ollie and the children hit the stage to showcase some of their own talents in front of friends and family.
Ollie’s mum Alison said: “My little star has been so brave.
“He fought hard and lifted the spirits of patients and staff on the ward while enduring treatment for cancer. It was so great to be at the Kids and Teens Star Awards party.
“Ollie had a wonderful time. It was fantastic to see him up on stage dancing and singing. He really enjoyed the day and it was just a lovely trip after all he has been going through.”
Ollie was just approaching his sixth birthday when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in October 2016.
Alison explained: “Ollie had been losing weight and was quite pale. He also had a strange rash on his legs. I had taken him to the doctor who thought it was a viral infection and booked him in for non-urgent blood tests.
“But then a week later Ollie couldn’t get out of bed one morning. He was crying with pains in his legs.
“I was worried something might be broken but the pain wore off as the day went on. Even so, I took him to the local hospital where he had an x-ray which didn’t show anything.
“But I explained the other strange symptoms he had been having with pains and being so pale and that I was worried. They said they would do further tests there and then.
“They put a cannula in the back of his hand to take blood and, looking back now, I think the doctor knew Ollie was seriously ill and would need further tests and treatment, hence the cannula.”
Within 45 minutes the blood tests results were available and Alison was called into a room on her own, where she was told the news that Ollie had leukaemia.
“It comes as such a shock to be told that your child has cancer that your mind literally goes blank. The only thought running through my head was ‘does this mean that he is going to die?’
“I immediately phoned my mum and sister to tell them the devastating news and in the meantime the doctor had phoned the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children to reserve a bed for Ollie and we were sent over there in an ambulance.”
Ollie then began five weeks of intensive chemotherapy after which he had lumbar puncture tests to see how well he was responding. Unfortunately, he had not responded as well as hoped and so he was given a more intensive regime of higher dose chemo.
“Thankfully that worked and Ollie finished the intensive phase of treatment and went onto the gentler maintenance chemotherapy in July 2017.”
Ollie was well enough to return to Mossley Primary School last September last year and he is now enjoying getting back to the things he loves – the outdoors, visiting National Trust properties and playing with lego.
In the UK, around 4,500 children and young people (aged 0-24) are diagnosed with cancer every year*.
Around eight in 10 children and young people diagnosed with cancer in the UK now survive for at least five years, and many survivors have benefited from research funded by Cancer Research UK.
For more information about Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens