Oliver, 4, wins the hearts of the nation with his fight against cancer

A four-year-old cancer patient from Ackworth has captured the hearts of the nation as his family fight to raise £230,000 for a new treatment.

Friday, 29th May 2020, 12:10 pm
Oliver Stephenson was diagnosed with neuroblastoma earlier this year, when tests confirmed a tumour on his kidney and found that the cancer had spread to his bone marrow, skull and eye sockets.

Oliver Stephenson was diagnosed with neuroblastoma earlier this year, when tests confirmed a tumour on his kidney and found that the cancer had spread to his bone marrow, skull and eye sockets.

Pontefract artist's latest lockdown mural captures the smile of a boy who is fighting neuroblastomaHe began chemotherapy just two days later, and is currently undergoing treatment at Leeds General Infirmary with his dad, James, by his side.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic safety precautions, the pair are isolating in hospital, and have not seen mum, Laura, or little brother, Alfie, for over a month.

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Oliver with dad James and mum Laura, prior to lockdown. Photo: SWNS

Laura said: “Oliver has been in and out of hospital since January, but he’s recovered every time.

“It’s been more daunting for me and Oliver’s dad, every time he has a hospital appointment it’s very scary.”

Oliver arrived in Leeds General Infirmary on April 27 for a new course of chemotherapy, and must remain in hospital until his immune system recovers from the treatment.

Next year, Laura and James hope he will be eligible for a new kind of treatment known as a Bivalent vaccine.

But the vaccine, which is still in trials, is only available in America, and the family face a bill of £230,000 if Oliver wishes to undergo the treatment.

The community has rallied around to support the family, raising more than £150,000 in four months.

More than 10,000 people have now joined a Facebook group dedicated to supporting the family, and their fundraiser has been well-supported, with pop stars Marti Pellow and Tony Hadley both posting videos of themselves dedicating a performance to Oliver.

And this weekend, the campaign received another boost, when Laura and James were invited to share their story on BBC Breakfast.

Laura thanked her friends and family for their hard work in fundraising, spreading awareness about Oliver’s condition and capturing the attention of the stars.

She said: “Oliver’s chemotherapy and cell transplant is now done, but the chemotherapy killed all his healthy cells along with the cancerous cells.

“As much as it hurts not seeing him, when Oliver’s feeling well I feel better, when I can see that he’s not doing well it breaks my heart.

“Last week he was doing great and there was talk of him coming home.”

It had been hoped that Oliver would return home for Alfie’s third birthday next week.

But over the weekend Oliver took a turn for the worse, when he contracted Veno-occlusive disease (VOD), a form of liver disease and a side effect of chemotherapy.

Laura said: “VOD can be serious but in Oliver’s case it’s quite mild at the moment, the doctors think it will stay that way with no sign of worsening.

“I am a bit gutted because I was so excited when he was back to being his perky self, I really got my own hopes up so it’s disappointing that this has happened.

“I just hope Oliver will recover soon so he can come home, I can’t wait to see him and me and his dad are both trying to be hopeful.”