Adam was just eight-years-old when he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. After becoming unwell in 2015 he was referred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for life-saving brain surgery to remove the tumour.
Here Adam’s mum Clare tells us his story…
It was January 2015 when my eight-year-old son Adam first started to complain about feeling really sick. This continued on and off for a few weeks, but at the time we put it down to a series of stomach bugs. Then Adam started suffering from headaches which went on for about six weeks in total. This was completely out of character for Adam as he had never been a sickly child. He was an incredibly energetic little boy, who loved nothing more than to be playing out with his friends, kicking a football around and having fun.
I was really concerned that Adam wasn’t his usual happy and active self, so took him to our local GP for a check-up. The doctor thought Adam was suffering from intense headaches, as we have a family history of migraines.
Adam’s symptoms of nausea and headaches still persisted, with good and bad days over the next few months. We attended my sister’s wedding and Adam was really not himself. Normally he would be the life and soul of the party but he just had no energy, was very lethargic and felt really poorly.
Over the next five months Adam’s symptoms progressively got worse, he often felt really dizzy, at times suffering from clumsiness and even fell over. In October Adam complained of a particularly bad headache and went to have a lie down. When I went to check on Adam I was distraught to realise that he was unconscious. I straight away called an ambulance, and thankfully Adam came round when he arrived at our local hospital. My poor son was extremely sensitive to light, any movement and he was in a lot of pain.
Initially they thought Adam had tonsillitis and he was put on a 10 day course of antibiotics. At this point Adam was so poorly that he was crawling to the toilet to be sick. It was heart-breaking to see my son so ill, and to not know what could be causing it. The doctor knew something wasn’t right so Adam was sent for an MRI Scan.
I remember thinking that maybe Adam had some form of epilepsy. I knew something was wrong, and had been for some while, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider a brain tumour.
Three hours after the MRI scan we were called into a room to be told the news which would completely turn our world upside down. They had found something, and it was a brain tumour. I felt completely shocked and bewildered. I’d never even let myself consider a tumour so it was almost as though my brain couldn’t process this news. I was just in complete shock. I think I must have gone into auto-pilot as I knew I had to keep strong for Adam.
We were referred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and were placed on Ward 78, which little did we know at the time, would become our second home for the next 9 months. Adam underwent more scans and his surgeon, Mr. Josen talked us through Adam’s surgery. We found out that his tumour was located at the back of his brain, in the cerebellum which is why his balance was affected and he had felt so sick.
The surgeons and doctors at the hospital are miracle workers and thankfully Adam’s surgery was a success. They managed to remove the majority of the tumour but it would be 10 whole days until we could find out if the tumour was cancerous and what course of treatment Adam would need.
Those 10 days felt like the longest 10 days of my life. All we wanted was to get the results so that we knew what we were dealing with and what the best approach to tackle it would be; so having to wait felt like torture.
I can’t stress how important the time from the actual surgery to the start of treatment is. It plays a huge factor in the recovery and future of your child’s health. It’s time critical and could sadly make the difference between life and death.
After the 10 day wait we were told the devastating news Adam’s tumour was cancerous and that he needed radiotherapy and chemotherapy. By that point we were just so glad to be given some news so that we could start the treatment and help get Adam better.
Since the initial treatment we have been in and out of the children’s hospital for more scans and treatment. Even though Adam is only young he’s very bright and understood what was happening every step of the way. It’s been incredibly hard for him but he’s been so amazingly brave. He loves all the staff on Ward 78 and Ward 84 - having somewhere that he’s felt comfortable has made a world of difference.
Adam is slowly recovering but the side-effects of the treatment have had a huge impact on his mobility and health. He’s got chronic fatigue so we are taking things slowly, one day at a time. Adam was desperate to go back to school so he’s just started back, 20 minutes each day, to slowly ease him in. We still need to visit the children’s hospital every three months for his scan to make sure everything is ok, but we are just so thankful that Adam is back at home, where he should be.
I count my blessings every day that Adam was one of the lucky ones, but things could have been so different. I know what a difference it would make to families going through a similar situation to get a diagnosis more quickly and accurately, so that they can receive the most appropriate treatment as soon as possible. That’s why we are supporting Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity’s Be Seen in Green day, to give children with brain tumours the best possible chance of recovery.
To know that other families wouldn’t have to go through the anguish of waiting so long for the results would make the most incredible difference, and that’s why we need this specialist equipment. I’ll forever be in debt to the hospital for saving Adam’s life; the staff are nothing short of amazing, so we are determined to give back in any way we can.