Sam at the park
Thank you for supporting Sparks’ pioneering children’s medical research by making a donation. Through your incredible generosity, Sparks is funding ground-breaking research into better treatments and cures for childhood illnesses and improving the quality of life for children with medical conditions.
One such condition is neuroblastoma, one of the most common types of cancer seen in childhood - around 100 new cases diagnosed each year. Its severity can vary greatly, and approximately 20% of neuroblastoma tumours have a gene change that makes them far more aggressive. Children have to undergo a gruelling regime of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. More effective treatments for children with neuroblastoma are desperately needed.
Sam’s mum, Beverly, shares with us Sam’s inspiring story on his fight with neuroblastoma.
Sam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was three years old, and was treated for over a year. He had stage 4 neuroblastoma, which affects the bone marrow.
‘Sam needed high dose chemotherapy which meant six weeks in an isolation ward as he was prone to infections, which could have serious repercussions for him. Sam did get an infection and was transferred to intensive care, put on a ventilator and fed through a tube. This was the most worrying time for us during his treatment but he is a real little fighter.
We were very lucky – the chemo worked well and Sam did not need surgery to remove his primary tumour. But he did need some difficult radiotherapy, and made us so proud when having the treatment. Somehow he kept his spirits up and was an inspiration to all of the other patients around him.
Eventually, on 18 March 2009, we were told that Sam didn’t need any more treatment, just regular check-ups.
We stopped on the way home and bought as many bottles of champagne as we could carry for the family and friends who had supported us for the last year. We just wanted to shout it to everyone.
At the moment we consider ourselves very lucky that Sam has done so well. He is now four years off treatment and doing well.’
Sam is now full of energy – he even joined his local football team last year.
While Sam had an amazing recovery from his bout with neuroblastoma, many children do not. Neuroblastoma can be hard to detect, diagnose, treat and overcome.
How We’re Helping
With Sparks’ funding, Professor Arturo Sala and his team at Brunel University are using stem cell research to see if a stem cell made with a cancer-killing gene can be used to find and eliminate neuroblastoma cells in patients. These cells are already being used in a large clinical trial on adult lung cancer.
By using stem cells, the treatment allows all neuroblastoma cells to be targeted regardless of genetic makeup. If Professor Sala and his team validate the study’s effectiveness, they can quickly establish a clinical trial and ultimately help to better treatment for this condition.
Thank you so much once again for your support. Your generosity helps to fund innovative research into underfunded areas of paediatric health, helping to change and save the lives of children like Sam.