The article reproduced below was included in our matchday programme for the game against MK Dons. Alex will be visiting our training ground this week, with his parents, to meet the players and we hope that, after reading his story, you will consider supporting Steve as he runs 12 marathons in 12 months in 2018.
In November 2016 my eldest son Alex, a Rovers supporting 12 year old, had been complaining of headaches and nausea/being sick over a period of a couple of weeks and was having time off school as a result.
After a few trips to see his neurologist it was put down to migraine; he had previously been diagnosed with focal cortical dysplasia causing epilepsy type symptoms.
On 29th November, my son woke me up early hours of the morning screaming in pain, holding the right side of his head and vomiting/retching. I finally settled him down with some painkillers, thinking it was another migraine, but a few hours later I found him unresponsive and was unable to wake him up. After checking him over I noticed he'd been sick in his sleep, his breathing was laboured and his right pupil had blown. He was rushed, by ambulance, to Bristol Children's Hospital A&E. He was attached to many wires, a breathing tube was inserted, and he was taken for a CT scan and straight into emergency surgery. He'd had a bleed on the brain!
The next time I saw him was hours later in ICU. I was told by the surgeon that they removed the clot caused by the bleed along with a large mass, of which a biopsy was sent off for testing. It was in the same area as his cortical dysplasia!
He recovered quickly and after five days he was allowed home. I'm not 100% sure, and it's not been confirmed, but I'm thinking that having the cortical dysplasia meant his brain had already rewired itself anyway, so he didn't need any form of rehabilitation.
A week after he was discharged we were called back into the hospital to see a doctor in Oncology for the results of the biopsy. I've heard that word before so I immediately knew what that meant! But I hoped it wasn't that. Then the doctor dealt me the blow that's every mother’s nightmare; my child has cancer!!
He was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Glioblastoma, a fast growing aggressive brain tumour. We had no idea that it was lurking there, silently getting bigger!
Alex then underwent a six week course of radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy, which he dealt with very well. Treatment finished in February this year, and in March he started receiving a higher dose of chemotherapy for a five day cycle every 28 days (12 cycles in total). Although he had days where he felt nauseous and tired, he's not letting it get him down, he told me it certainly wasn't going to let it get the better of him that's for sure! The first of his follow up MRI scans was in April 2017, which showed that all was good…so far. In July Alex had another follow up MRI scan, this showed treatment related changes (an after effect of the radiotherapy) but all was looking good still.
In September he began experiencing seizures which were out of the ordinary, slightly different to ones he had experienced before, and was seen by one of his doctors. His third follow up MRI was brought forward as a result. On the day he was due to start his seventh Chemo cycle we were given the results of the scan. We received the devastating news that the cancer had returned in two other areas of his brain.
It’s in an area that is inoperable and the chemo treatment he was receiving hasn’t worked so he is no longer receiving this. Unfortunately there isn’t any further treatment available and radiotherapy isn’t possible as it’s been less than year since he last received it. At this point there’s not much more that they can do for him now apart from manage his seizures and keep him as well as possible for as long as they can.
We’ve been told that we just need to make the most of the time we have now. They don’t know for certain how long he’s got but they have said it’s months and not years. He turns 14 in January.
CLIC Sargent have aided Alex whilst supporting us with our daily issues and are providing increasing levels of help where required during this extremely difficult period.
To give a little back I (Steve) will be undertaking a ‘12in12’ challenge of at least a marathon per month in 2018. The challenge kicks off in January with The Gloucester Winter Marathon.
If you would like to help, you can donate at: http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steve-reynolds14.