I’m after your money again. Yes, I’m a greedy so-and-so, but please read on, this means so much to me but even more to the bravest 10-year-old kid I’ve ever known.
Let me introduce me to my wee pal Joe and his brilliant family, the Clappertons.
What they’ve been through in the past, and are going through now, makes my own cancer battle seem like a stroll in the park and gives me regular inspiration and a much-needed kick up the backside when I start feeling sorry for myself.
Joe is in my daughter Millie’s class at school. She *may* have had a crush on him for a few years now. It’s not really for a dad to say! His wee brothers Rudi and Sandy are also good friends with my kids, and let’s just say the respective mums and dads enjoy a ‘light refreshment’ or two together when circumstances allow!
Here’s Joe’s story, in his mum Leigh’s words:
“Six years ago our son Joe was diagnosed with a brain tumour at his brain stem. He had surgery which fully removed it and follow-up Proton Therapy (a form of radiotherapy) and has had six wonderful years free of cancer.
“Unfortunately in March this year with chest pain and balance problems we were given the news that he had relapsed and his tumour had returned in his brain stem and in his spine. He had emergency surgery to remove most of two of the bigger tumours which had caused compression in his spine.
“As Joe always does he made an amazing recovery even though it was extremely tough! He has now nearly completed his first 9-week course of intense chemotherapy and although it is extremely difficult for him at times, he continues to embrace and enjoy life through every single opportunity he can! We are so proud of him. He faces radiotherapy next but we know he can do it! He never stops amazing us!
“Joe has spent a lot of time in the children’s oncology ward at the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh. The doctors, nurses and all the staff are so amazing at their job and the new Sick Kids is opening in the not too far future. He is such a bright ten year old and we asked him what charity we should raise money for and his answer was simple… A room or space for 8-13 years olds! There is a ‘teenage’ cancer trust room and a ‘very young’ play room but nowhere that accommodates his ‘pre teenager’ age group! He has amazing ideas for ‘bean bags’, ‘ Ipads’ and chefs coming in to do baking lessons!”
Wow, just wow!
I really can’t begin to imagine what all that intensive treatment – both back in 2010 and now – means to a child, given what I’ve seen and felt what it does to a grown adult.
But know what? Joe takes it all head-on with a determination that embarrasses me every time I have a wee moan.
He makes me smile every time we meet. We compare our (lack of) hair-styles. His hats are much, much cooler than mine. We talk about Central Lines and chemo treatment. He challenges me to physical tasks (I wimped out of the dad’s race at school sports day last week – Joe, meanwhile ran his year group sprint. See what I mean about embarrassed!)
I’ve no idea where he gets the energy. Or the motivation. Or the bravery. But he’s an inspiration to us all.
As you’ll see from his mum’s words, he’s also thinking of others. Which me and a number of other adults found out to our cost when a number of families went camping for the weekend at the start of his treatment in the Spring.
The Clown Doctors at the Sick Kids had taught Joe a trick which allowed him to ‘conjure’ fivers from
gullible willing adults. He scammed earned a small fortune, but rather than squirrel the cash away he took the 20 or so other kids to the sweetie shop and kept them in sugary snacks for the whole weekend. Like I say, always thinking of others.
Joe’s family have set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for the new room at the Sick Kids.
If you can spare a quid or two, I can think of no greater cause than providing a dedicated support space for 8-13 year olds in a Cancer Ward.
Just think about it. Primary School and early High School kids stuck in hospital getting intensive treatment for Cancer. Stuck in hospital for days, weeks at a time.
Let’s help give them something to smile about and a little bit of light in an often dark place.