Sunday, 19 January 2020
A BOY fighting cancer for a third time is to have new treatment — this time funded by the NHS.
Charlie Ilsley, 12, of Buckingham Drive, Emmer Green, was given the all-clear for the second time in August after undergoing specialist radiation treatment in Turkey which his family had to raise the money to pay for.
Now the disease is thought to have returned after a lumbar puncture showed cancer cells in his spinal fluid.
Doctors at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he originally had surgery, want to insert an Ommaya reservoir under his scalp so that chemotherapy drugs can be delivered directly to his spine.
Charlie’s parents mother Mark and Toni feared he couldn’t have any more chemotherapy after months of intense treatment at a hospital in Ankara.
But they say the new procedure offers them all hope without Charlie having to suffer the serious side effects he experiences when chemotherapy is administered normally. He is expected to undergo surgery later this week.
Charlie is already undergoing a course of dendritic immunotherapy, which is designed to help his body to identify and fight cancer cells.
He had his first session in Cologne last month and is due to have the second next week followed by a third and final one.
This treatment costs £60,000 and the family managed to raise more than £40,000 in a matter of days before Charlie flew to Germany with his mother for the first session.
Charlie previously had CyberKnife radiotherapy treatment after two tumours were discovered on his spine.
This treatment was not available to children at the John Radcliffe, where he had surgery to remove a brain tumour in 2015.
Mrs Ilsley said she didn’t know why the NHS was now choosing to fund her son’s treatment.
She said: “I’m really relieved that it’s not me looking for another treatment and paying for it. I’m thinking at least they are helping and paying for it now.
“When they first tell you the cancer’s back you go into shock and then it’s wanting to find out what’s going to help.
“It’s nice that some professionals are taking over the treatment and it’s not me, knowing nothing, trying to find something that works.
“It delivers his chemotherapy straight to the spinal fluid and not the blood so they can give you whacking doses.
“Now we have got a plan and they are going to help out to get it done straight away before it spreads anymore. It’s a bit more hope.”
Mrs Ilsley said the treatment was being used at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on a trial basis.
She said: “Because it has been a success, I think the NHS are letting people have it. Charlie is the second boy in John Radcliffe to have it.
“His cancer has become a chronic illness now. We have got to give him every chance. You never know — third time could be lucky.”
Charlie, who attends Highdown School in Emmer Green, first showed signs of being ill in 2015.
Doctors discovered a tumour about the size of a snooker ball in his brain and another on his spine.
He underwent a 10-hour operation and then had radiotherapy and chemotherapy before being given the all-clear in March 2016.
Then in spring last year the tumours on his spine were discovered. His mother was so worried about losing Charlie that she took him to Turkey for treatment.
A spokeswoman for the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Clinicians at Oxford University Hospitals have recently received approval for a different method of delivering chemotherapy to children.
“Intraventricular chemotherapy requires an operation to fit an Ommaya reservoir, through which drugs can be administered directly to the spine or brain.
“This means that clinicians offering chemotherapy for patients at Oxford Children’s Hospital have another option to offer which may be of benefit to a group of patients with specific indications for this treatment approach.
“The safe development and introduction of this treatment requires an extensive governance structure to ensure patient safety, which can take a considerable amount of time.
“The trust can now move forward with the implementation of this treatment.”
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