Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Charlie’s mother opens doggy day care centre in his memory

Charlie’s mother opens doggy day care centre in his memory

A DAY care centre for dogs created in memory of Charlie Ilsley will open next month.

Charlie’s Dog Place is being set -up by the family of the 13-year-old boy who died in December after losing a long fight against cancer.

The centre has been created by converting the garage at his family’s home in Buckingham Drive, Emmer Green.

Charlie’s mother Toni and sister Jess will work together on the new business, offering day care, boarding and dog walks. The centre will open on June 1.

Mrs Ilsley said her son had two dogs, Ernie, a shih tzu bichon frise cross, and Eric, a lhasa apso, and wanted to work with dogs when he was older.

He told her this when they were in Mexico for his cancer treatment the week before he died and stayed at a ranch that had rescued a dog, which then had 11 puppies.

Mrs Ilsley said: “It was on the Wednesday before we flew home that we were at the ranch and he had all these puppies in his arms.

“His diagnosis and treatment had left him unable to balance.

“He had often said to me that he worried about what he would do when he got older. He looked up at me and said he wanted to work with dogs. That was three days before he died so we have decided to do it for him and to carry on his name and memory.

“The two things that he loved most were his dogs and gaming. He would take his Xbox wherever we went and he couldn’t always take the dogs but he would never stop talking about them. They were his best friends.

“He loved them and they were always on the bed with him. He felt like they were his brothers.”

Charlie, who had beaten cancer twice before it returned, travelled to Mexico with his family for cutting-edge immunotherapy treatment.

He died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, surrounded by his family, having been taken there directly from Heathrow Airport on their return.

He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition in which an accumulation of fluid occurs within the brain. The walls at Charlie’s Dog Place will be adorned with drawings of dogs by local children along with letters sent by well-wishers and photographs of Charlie and his certificates.

The teenager attended Highdown School in Emmer Green and his mother has offered to take on vulnerable students and offer work experience opportunities.

Mrs Ilsley said: “I wanted it to be in his name because I know he would have wanted to look after dogs. If he was alive, he would have wanted to keep every dog that came in.

“My aim is to keep his name alive. When you lose a child, you worry that they will be forgotten and that is the thing that hurts the most.

“You are going through this battle and he is always in the news and then all of a sudden he is dead. He is still on my mind 24/7 — everyone else has got a life now but it is with me every day.

“I don’t want him to be forgotten. I know he is looking down on us and he would love what we are doing.”

Charlie had fought the disease since 2015, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and was twice given the all-clear after treatment.

After his first diagnosis, he underwent a 10-hour operation and had 31 sessions of radiotherapy, followed by chemotherapy.

Initially, his family sought to raise £200,000 to pay for proton therapy treatment, which uses beams to irradiate diseased tissue. He spent two years in remission but two tumours were found on his spine in early 2018.

He was given the all-clear in August 2019, having undergone specialist radiotherapy treatment and chemotherapy in Turkey.

His family had to raise money to pay for this, as well as the flights, as radiotherapy was not available at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he had been treated previously.

Two months later, the family took Charlie on a dream holiday to Orlando, which was made possible by the children’s charity Rays of Sunshine.

While in America, Charlie swam with dolphins, stingrays and tropical fish. He also went horse riding and visited Universal Studios.

In November last year, his family were told the disease had returned after a lumbar puncture showed cancer cells in his spinal fluid.

He flew to Germany for more immunotherapy treatment and, at the beginning of last year, the NHS agreed to treat Charlie.

Doctors inserted an Ommaya reservoir under his scalp so that chemotherapy drugs could be delivered directly to his spine but the treatments failed.

Mrs Ilsley searched for alternatives, including clinical trials in America, but was told her son was not eligible.

He then underwent three weeks of a new form of immunotherapy, known as CAR-T cell treatment, in Mexico City.

A scan in the same month showed no new growth of the disease and the following month his family was told it was stable and had not grown since March.

Another scan then showed there was a tiny area of cancer in his brain and he underwent more treatment in Mexico.

Mrs Ilsley said she has already received lots of interest from dog owners.

For more information, visit charliesdogplace.co.uk

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