Alan had been on a camping trip with family when they noticed him growing tired and unable to play. They took him to hospital, where they were told by doctors that they suspected he had cancer.
Mum, Angela, said:
“I felt physically sick. I thought “'what is going to happen to him?'”
"I could see how ill he was so I knew something was very, very wrong. He was starting to fade before our eyes.”
He was transferred to the specialist oncology unit at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where he was so poorly that doctors worried he would not survive the general anaesthetic needed to take diagnostic samples from his stomach.
“We just felt total devastation and fear” added Angela. “But knowing there was no other option, we had to give our consent. We had to leave while they did it, so we went to the waiting room. During that time I could hear alarm bells going off in the ward, but I didn’t know if it was him. When I asked later, they said it was and they had to do chest compressions to resuscitate him. It was such a blur."
“Just a few days before I had taken him to the GP, and here he was on ICU struggling to breathe.”
Alan was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma – a cancer that is so fast that the cancer cells double every 12 hours. But, most importantly the doctors described it as “eminently treatable.”
He began a six month treatment plan including cycles of chemotherapy that left him with painful ulcers in his mouth and throat and throughout his digestive system.
“Everything was hurting” said Angela.
“We had to be extremely careful with him because any infections could kill him even the common cold could kill him."
"Alan would get out of bed only to be carried over to the sofa bed. He didn’t even cry. But when they put the feeding tube in they had to push it down his throat, and because of the ulcers and he just wiped his tears away silently. He didn’t want me to see him upset.”
Alan returned home just before Christmas 2016. But he had to have blood tests twice on Christmas Eve, and a blood transfusion on Boxing Day. Two months later, the family got the news they were waiting for – that Alan was cancer-free. In September 2017 he had his first day at school.
“CLIC Sargent was an incredible support to our family throughout our journey” added Alan’s dad, Barry. “We had a social worker who came to see us very early on. She gave us a £170 grant to help with finances, and helped apply for the DLA and offered whatever support we needed.
“We also got the chance to go to a CLIC Sargent End of Treatment Day, which was a chance to talk about what we had been through and find out what help there might be for us. It was really, really useful. Just talking to the other families was like an emotional outlet which we hadn’t had until that point.”
Alan was one of 12 children who took part in the Morrisons and CLIC Sargent Jingle Bells Christmas message.
Read more stories of children and young people who have been helped by our partnership with Morrisons.