Luke was 9 years old when diagnosed that he had a brain tumour. His symptoms appeared extremely quickly, over a matter of days, and he immediately underwent two operations within a space of three weeks to remove the tumour followed by radiotherapy. The operation left Luke with a weak left side, particularly his arm and hand.
Although we never underestimated the seriousness of his condition we were hopeful when, in January 1998, a scan showed no tumour re-growth and with the help of physiotherapy Luke began to gain control over his left arm and hand. Just before our holiday to Florida in April Luke suffered a small seizure and whilst we were in America there were noticeable signs that his condition was recurring and Florida Hospital gave us the news that they thought the tumour had come back. From all the knowledge we had gained over the past year we knew that no further conventional treatment would be successful but we couldn’t give up and searched the world for help. We spoke with consultants across the globe and in a desperate last attempt sought help from a homeopathic doctor in Australia who had a success with a tiny baby born with a brain tumour, but it was not to be.
“It is impossible to condense into a few words the nightmare world into which you are plunged when your child is diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness and when that illness results in the loss of a child it is almost unbearable. The only choice left to the family is to bring something positive out of the misery and pain, something which may benefit future children”
Luke was so marvellous throughout and up until the day of his seizure in April 1998 he continued to play all the sports he loved and overcame the disability of his left hand and even came runner up in the local Tennis Club finals by improvising his serve. It was impossible for Luke to be unhappy for long, even through the most awful parts of his illness his lovely grin was never far from his face. Like so many children who suffer there was no self-pity and this is from a middle child who’s favourite saying was “its unfair!”
When we returned from holiday in May, Luke started to need a wheelchair and gradually his condition worsened. It was our wish to care for him ourselves, with the support of Luke’s nurse, and this we did. Luke died on 20th August 1998 at home with his family.
Our family is just one of many who fund raise for research into brain tumours – a cancer which does not respond well to chemotherapy because the brain has a protective barrier which filters out much of the drug and which is too toxic to direct straight into the brain via the spinal fluid. A cancer which causes innumerable symptoms which can vary from sufferer to sufferer depending upon its position. Some are inoperable because they are situated too near to the primary functions of life.
We live our lives now around the pain of it all but are heartened when so many kind and wonderful people continue to remember Luke and children like him who deserve more of a chance to survive this very debilitating and little publicised illness and yet is the second largest cancer in children.