St Georges Hospital supports Stand Up To Cancer in memory of brave patient Dylan James
The courage of families who stand up to cancer has been praised by a top cancer doc in a children’s hospital rated outstanding by CQC.
Dr Sijo Francis, Clinical Director of Children’s Services at St George’s Hospital, praised mum Ally and dad Warren who sadly lost their son Dylan-James to cancer in June 2018 when he was just three years all.
The parents are supporting Stand Up To Cancer on C4 tonight in Dylan-James’ memory to help raise awareness of childhood cancer and the importance of developing new treatments.
Sijo said: “At St George’s we stand with Ally and Warren against this terrible disease that took Dylan-James away from them.
“It is the incredible strength they demonstrate in sharing Dylan-James’s story, and the courage of the children we care for that drives the clinical teams at St George’s to provide outstanding care for our children and their families.
Speaking to Stand Up to Cancer UK, Ally said: “Dylan-James arrived two months early – it was the happiest I have ever been, and we knew how precious he was, even more so being a premature baby. He was a real delight and brought so much joy to us as a whole family. He made everyone laugh, smile and wherever he went he left an impression, particularly with his beautiful eyes. He could light up a room and he loved the character Cat Boy from PJ Masks; he used to love dressing up as him too.
“In 2017, just before his 3rd Birthday he had a fever, and his daddy said his tummy was really hard so we took him to A&E. We thought it might be appendicitis, but the A&E doctors said they were really concerned, and he would need to go for a scan. The scan showed a mass on his kidney called Wilms tumour, a childhood cancer. That moment everything just stopped for us. Our world turned upside down but, at that point, the doctors were positive and we were told: “this is a ‘curable’ cancer, this isn’t a terminal diagnosis”.
“He started a 12-month, high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment plan as well as major surgery to remove his kidney and the tumour. We were absolutely devastated, it was really difficult but he was so brave and carried on playing and smiling. The treatment meant he could not go to nursery or meet his friends, but Dylan-James carried on being amazing all through those months.
“We never ever thought we would lose Dylan-James. Everything was going well and all his scans were coming back clear. We were two months from the end of the treatment when one day he announced “I’ve got a ghost in my tummy”” A scan showed that the tumour had not only come back, but it had also spread to his lungs. I said to the doctors “Just do whatever it takes. I can’t lose him” but they said: “there’s nothing else we can do. He has got two months.”
“My heart was breaking in places I didn’t know was possible. I had to look at him and just smile because I didn’t want to tell him. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Dylan-James passed away on 22 June 2018. It was just two weeks after his terminal diagnosis, and it was only weeks before his 4th birthday. I was cuddling him and he just stopped breathing. There’s nothing worse than watching your child’s heart stop beating and yours carries on. The day I buried Dylan-James, they buried me.”
Sijo also added:
“Our exceptional teams look after children with cancer from 12 months to 18 years and I’m very proud of the skill and expertise they have in surgery, intensive care and the research they do to find new treatments.
“Above all, I am most proud of the compassion and kindness they provide at some of the most difficult times our families face. At St George’s, we #standuptocancer with Ally and Warren. Together we can beat this disease.”
For more information about SU2C, please visit su2c.org.uk