AS ONE Hampshire youngster fighting cancer is honoured for his bravery, experts reveal that more children than ever are surviving the devastating disease.
Latest figures from Cancer Research UK show that almost eight in ten children diagnosed with the killer disease survived for at least five years – more than double what it was 50 years ago.
The news offers increased hope for survival for patients like little Max Tucker, whose courage despite gruelling treatment has inspired people across the world and won him a Little Star Award.
The six-year-old, from Romsey, was diagnosed with leukaemia last June and has since been forced to undergo intensive chemotherapy that saw him in and out of Southampton General Hospital as his treatment laid him open to infections.
His family received support from their community, with businessmen donating laptops and mobile phones to help Max with his homework, and his school, Cupernham Infants’, paying to send the family on a break to escape the hospital wards. But the support didn’t end there. A birthday post by his mum, Alison Wood, on a social networking site went global and led to hundreds of cards arriving at the family home in Anderson Close, from all over the world.
Max is on maintenance therapy which allows him to take chemotherapy drugs at home, but he has to take steroids every five days, causing mood swings for the usually happy youngster.
Alison said: “Throughout the pain and scariness of having cancer – all the treatment, high temperatures and infections which often left him so low he was unable to walk – he kept telling me not to worry.
“This is a life we never in our worst nightmares expected for our little boy. But he shines through the dark cloud hanging over us. Max is a fighter and will beat this.”
And thanks to advances in science and technology, some of which takes place in Southampton’s Cancer Research UK centre, his chances of beating it are much higher as figures show that around 33,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancer will be living in the UK by the end of this year.