Calum Ray, four, had a difficult start to the year when he caught chickenpox at the beginning of January. While most of his symptoms started going away, he was still complaining about a “sore body”. At first, his mum, Victoria Macdonald, 33, thought this was the after-effect of the childhood disease. However, Calum’s soreness turned out to be cancer.
Apart from a sore body, Calum started to struggle with more new symptoms, including night sweats, high temperature and refusing to walk.
The boy was referred to the local hospital when these signs started to crop up.
Victoria told Glasgow Live: “When we took Calum there, he was in an incredible amount of pain.
“He’d ask us to hold his neck, his stomach and back to help with the pain.
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“We met with an orthopaedic doctor to find out if it was to do with his spine but he recommended an MRI to see what was happening.”
Further tests revealed a tumour above Calum’s adrenal gland, which is located on the top of a kidney.
The family was sent to Glasgow straight away, where doctors did more tests, including a full body MRI and a bone marrow test.
The mum added: “It took a week to find out the results. Then, he was diagnosed on March 1 with neuroblastoma stage M, which is high risk.
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“It’s high risk because the cancer is likely to come back even with all the treatment.”
Neuroblastoma details a rare cancer that usually targets young children, while stage M means the tumour has spread to a distant part of the body.
Doctors broke the gloomy news to both Victoria and her partner, Andrew Ray, in front of Calum.
The parents’ world collapsed, leaving them devastated and unsure how to react.
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After the diagnosis, Calum started chemotherapy straight away which seemed to take all the pain away, according to Victoria.
He has just finished his sixth cycle and has another two rounds to go.
The mum said: “After that he needs to get surgery to remove the tumour if they can remove it, then he needs high dose chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant, which is when they can become incredibly unwell.
“The whole process will take 12 to 14 months.”
Despite being given a diagnosis that every parent dreads, Calum has stood up to the challenge and has become something of a bright spark.
Victoria said: “He is amazing. Calum takes everything in his stride.
“He has never once questioned why he needs to go to hospital; he just gets on with it.
“He is so resilient and he is wanting to play all the time.”
While the NHS treatment is the “gold standard”, Victoria is already looking ahead and is currently raising funds for a clinical trial across the pond that could stop the cancer from returning in the future.
She added: “The survival rate over a five-year period is 40 percent. If the cancer comes back, it drops even lower.
“So, we found this cancer centre in New York and they specialise in neuroblastoma trials and they are trying to find a way to stop it coming back.
“After Calum is completely finished treatment, as long as he is completely disease free, he can go straight over and take part. It is seven vaccines throughout the year and then check-ups.
“We are just trying to raise money now. We’ve started early because it is such a huge amount. The target is £250,000.”
To donate money, you can visit the fundraiser by clicking here.
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