Harry Oades was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a rare form of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, in November 2017, aged just 5 years old.
Harry had been feeling unwell for a number of weeks and had developed a lump in his neck, but he was still attending school and running around, albeit with a bit less energy than usual. Then he began to develop shortness of breath and a cough which resembled croup. After a visit to his GP Harry was referred for an ultrasound at the RVI. The scan showed that the lump in Harry’s neck was actually the top of a large tumour in his chest. The tumour was crushing his airway and causing the symptoms he had been experiencing. He was immediately admitted to Ward 4 at the Great North Children’s Hospital and his treatment began straight away.
Harry’s Dad Richard said: “The impact of a childhood cancer diagnosis is massive, obviously on the child, but also on the rest of the family. Our lives have changed enormously. We have different priorities now and limitations on where we can go and what we can do, but you adapt and take pleasure from simpler things. Harry has 2 older sisters who have been with him every step of the way. It is hard for anyone to fully understand the impact of a cancer diagnosis on siblings, they have to make huge sacrifices, but my wife and I are proud of the way they have coped.”
“2018 was a very challenging year, but we have been very well supported by family, friends and professionals. The doctors, nurses and support team at the RVI are truly amazing, we are so grateful to them for all they have done for us. Most importantly, Harry has responded to his treatment very well.”
Harry and his Dad Richard, Headteacher of Highfield Middle School, helped to launch the 2019 Children’s Cancer Run. Richard said, “We first supported the Children’s Cancer Run as a school in 2017. We had a great day and vowed to return in greater numbers in 2018. However, we had no idea that our school would be so affected by childhood cancer in the months that followed. 3 children associated with the school were diagnosed with cancer in a very short period of time. First, my son Harry was diagnosed in December, then sadly a few weeks later my colleague’s baby boy Joey was also diagnosed. Unbelievably, just weeks after that, a pupil, Katie, who has already shown incredible courage to win one battle with cancer, heard the news that she would have to fight the disease again. The whole school community really pulled together to support each other and to show how much they cared for the affected families. The turnout for the run was overwhelming, with over 150 pupils, parents, staff and friends running for Highfield.”
Highfield Middle School went on to win the Sandy Weir Trophy in September 2018 for being the school with the most funds raised last year, hitting an incredible £8,558. Richard is very proud of his school’s achievement, “So many of our pupils got involved in the race and we are proud of them all. However, particular recognition should go to Luca, he has Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder. Completing the run was a real challenge for him, but he managed it with a smile on his face and raised well over £1000 on his own. What a fantastic achievement!”.
Richard went on to say “Harry is currently still undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Great North Children’s Hospital, he is doing really well and managing to attend school most of the time. Katie underwent intensive chemotherapy and surgery in the Autumn and has responded incredibly well. She is in remission and we are delighted to have her back at school full time. They have both shown amazing resilience throughout their treatment. Sadly baby Joey passed away in September, both he and his parents inspired us all with their positivity and fighting spirit during their journey. Our school community will never forget Joey and we will continue to fundraise in his name.”
“My family and I feel blessed to live in Newcastle and be so close to hospitals and research facilities at the forefront of cancer care. The work carried out by NECCR is so important to improve life chances for children fighting cancer and reduce the impact of a cancer diagnosis on children and their families. Whilst working to improve the effectiveness of treatment, a lot of their research looks at finding ways of making cancer treatment shorter and less toxic.”
Everyone at Highfield Middle School are looking forward to taking part in the 2019 Children’s Cancer Run. “The run is really well organised and a great day out. Fresh air, fun, exercise and community spirit, all in the name of a fantastic cause. I would encourage every school in the region to get involved.”