A terminally-ill youngster has defied the odds and will travel to Mexico for a third round of groundbreaking treatment next month.
Jennifer Ure Stewart will take son Luke, and her dad Robert on the trip, despite medical experts giving the seven-year-old between six and nine months to live when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in January.
A JustGiving page Help Luke set up after his diagnosis has raised an incredible £180,000 to date and has seen Jennifer and husband Mark embark on a nationwide fundraising campaign.
Luke has received eight intra-arterial chemotherapy treatments so far – four of these being combined with immunotherapy aimed at reducing his tumour. The family will fly out to Monterrey Vale Oriente hospital in Mexico where he has been receiving treatment not currently available on the NHS.
According to the Brain Tumour Charity only around 10 per cent of children with DIPG survive longer than two years after the diagnosis with average survival rates being less than one year.
Jennifer said: “It will never go away but if we can keep him stable then he’ll be able to live his life. So at the moment he’s had a good reduction in his tumour, his cyst has had a great reduction and it’s not got any proteins in it anymore – it’s just clear fluid.
“The walls of his tumour are thinner and the cancer activity is really low, so there’s a lot of dead tumour there. A lot of progress is being made.
“In terms of life expectancy – it’s how long is a piece of string? They still don’t know, it’s on a treatment by treatment basis and also depends on how well Luke reacts to it.”
Luke has made friends with the doctors and nurses who treat him in Mexico and even the local football team CF Monterrey, who are one of the biggest clubs in the country, have agreed to raise funds for the youngster.
Since his treatment Luke has been able to attend primary school full-time and has even managed this week to accompany his younger brother Lewis, aged five, to a Hibs training camp.
Jennifer added: “We’ve travelled to Mexico twice now and this will be our third time. He loves going, the staff, the nurses and doctors are all absolutely amazing – it’s like a second home. Once he gets his head round that he’s going back again he looks forward to it as he’s built relationships like we all have.”
n To help, log on to: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/AllHelpLuke