Printer Friendly

It's a living hell - but AJ is a little fighter and, no matter how poorly he feels, he can always give me a cheeky grin; BRAVE AJ: BOY, AGED 2, GOES TO USA FOR CANCER TREATMENT FIVE MONTHS AFTER GRANDAD ESCAPED FROM JAIL IN BID TO SEE HIM.

Byline: EMMA MCKINNEY Staff Reporter emma.mckinney?

A BRAVE toddler is off to America for pioneering cancer treatment - five months after his grandad escaped from jail in a bid to see him.

John Cadby fled from HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire in January after being denied home leave to visit little AJ.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the convicted robber, who spent 11 days on the run, feared he would never see the twoyear-old again.

Cadby's escape was big news - but behind the headlines lay the harrowing story of a mum and her desperately-ill son.

Fewer than 60 children a year are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a condition which left AJ with a six-centimetre tumour in his prostate.

His mum, Kerrie Evans, was stunned by the diagnosis.

"I couldn't believe it when they said it was in his prostate," she said. "I always thought it was a disease elderly men got."

Cadby was serving a six-year sentence imposed in October, 2010 for a botched robbery in Sutton Coldfield.

He was recaptured at a house in Tile Cross but received only an extra six months in jail after admitting escaping from custody.

Judge Stuart Rafferty QC decided the case was "exceptional" because of the illness facing his grandson, who was not named at the time.

But, speaking for the first time of her son's ordeal, Chelmsley Woodbased Kerrie said the escape of Cadby, who is the father of AJ's dad, was the least of her worries.

"It has all been really stressful," she said. "I try to keep myself out of what else is happening and concentrate solely on AJ.

"He is my main priority, I never leave his bedside."

AJ, whose real name is Arren Junior, was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with cancer after he awoke screaming last October.

Unemployed, single Kerrie, who is also mum to Jordon, 15, Charlie, 13, Keelie, five, and oneyear-old Ayden, said: "AJ would drink a lot and would often wake up with full nappies.

"I thought maybe his nappy needed changing but when I checked, it was dry.

"I knew instantly that something was not right.

"He wouldn't stop screaming. It was totally out of character and I knew I had to get him to hospital."

Kerrie rushed the youngster to Heartlands Hospital, where he stayed for two days with a suspected urine infection. But, hours after he was discharged, AJ was admitted to Birmingham Children's Hospital, where an ultrasound scan revealed the tumour.

Since then, he has endured dozens of chemotherapy sessions and undergone major surgery to remove the tumour, as well as his bladder and prostate.

But, despite six months of intensive treatment, the disease has continued to invade his tiny body.

Now AJ is set to travel to the US next month for groundbreaking radiation treatment.

Kerrie, aged 31, said: "One minute AJ was fine, the next we were told he had cancer.

"I still sometimes struggle to believe this is all really happening, it's a living hell."

The toddler's two-month treatment in the US will see beams of protons targeted at the remaining areas of cancer.

"I feel fortunate that he has this opportunity but it's incredibly frightening to think about what is in store for him," Kerrie said.

"But he always has a smile on his face. He's been amazing and treats the hospital like a second home."

AJ is fed through a tube in his nose and receives drugs and blood transfusions through a tube in his stomach. He also has a urostomy bag to collect his urine, which he will have to use until he is around seven, when surgeons hope to rebuild his bladder.

Kerrie said: "His mouth is often blistered and sore inside from the treatment and his hair is only just growing back after the chemo. But he's a little fighter and, no matter how poorly he is, he always gives me a cheeky grin."

Friends and relatives are now helping to raise cash to pay for Kerrie's living expenses during the trip to Florida.

A fundraising event, including family entertainment and an auction, will be held on Sunday at Brookvale Social Club in Erdington from noon until 7pm.

"My family and friends have been amazing," Kerrie said. "I don't know what I would have done without their support.

"Being a single mum it can be a struggle, especially worrying about the other children as well as AJ."

OUR SAY: PAGE 18 RHABDOMYOSARCOMA FACT FILE: | Fewer than 60 children are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in the UK each year; | It's more common in boys than girls and is mostly diagnosed in children aged under 10; | These tumours develop from muscle or fibrous tissue and can grow in any part of the body - the most commonly affected areas being around the head, neck, bladder, testes, womb and vagina; | The cause of rhadomyosarcoma is unknown, but children with rare genetic disorders such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome have a higher risk of developing it; | The most common symptom is a lump or swelling, discharge from the nose or throat and difficulty going to the toilet.

It is a type of radiotherapy that uses a high energy beam of protons rather than high energy X-rays to deliver a dose of radiotherapy for patients with cancer; | It works best on very rare cancers, including tumours affecting the base of skull or spine; | It can be a more effective form of therapy because it directs the radiation treatment to precisely where it is needed - with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.

The treatment is particularly suitable to complex childhood cancers; | Five years ago, the Department for Health's National Specialised Commissioning Team established a programme to send patients overseas for proton beam therapy; | Just 160 UK patients have been deemed suitable for the treatment since 2008; | The treatment will not be available in the UK until 2017.

'"I feel fortunate that he has this opportunity but it's incredibly frightening to think about what is in store for him.KERRIE EVANS



Grandad John Cadby, who fled HMP Sudbury.

AJ with mum Kerrie Evans.
COPYRIGHT 2013 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 27, 2013
Previous Article:THE MAIL ONLINE Go to [...].
Next Article:Vets charity launches new scheme.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters