This is Sam when I met him at just 4 days old:
This is Sam with his Dad, Carl, at New Year 2013, just before Sam was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer:
Yesterday was Sam’s 4th birthday but because he has to have chemotherapy every 10 days at the moment, he’s having to spend it in hospital, sharing his massive chocolate cake with the rest of the ward. When he gets home at the weekend, he’ll get a proper birthday with balloons and more cake!
He has to have chemotherapy for the next 5-6 weeks (80 days in all). The neuroblastoma had woven itself around his internal organs and through his bones but his tests at the six-week half-way point showed that he’s responding really well to this stage of his treatment. All being well, he’ll have a series of other types of treatments for the rest of the year. So the year he turned four won’t be the most fun in his life but it could be one of the most important.
Because relapse rates are high for neuroblastoma, his oncologist at Manchester Children’s Hospital has recommended that Sam receives immunotherapy treatment. This will help Sam’s body fight off any future return of the cancer. The specific type of treatment he needs is currently only available in the US. It will cost £250,000 and can’t be funded by the NHS. So his family have set up the Sam Shaw Appeal on JustGiving with the support of The Neuroblastoma Alliance for anyone who would like to help them by making donations, large or small.
I met Sam’s Mum, Christine, at ballet classes when we were just slightly older than Sam is now. We went to primary and secondary school together and have stayed friends ever since. My little ballet friend is now a grown-up having to deal with this unimaginably shocking and stressful news. She (and her husband and family) are experiencing a year of spending days in hospital for treatment, then days at home while Sam recovers, then more days in hospital for more treatment, interspersed with unscheduled trips to hospital when he gets ill, and accompanied by constant stress, worry, sleeplessness, and pain. “Putting their lives on hold” seems quite a glib expression but they really really are.
On top of all that, they need to raise more money than a house would cost. The treatment this money could buy should help ensure that they don’t have to repeat this experience in future years.
If you can donate anything, that would be brilliant. You can donate online or you can text SAMS67 followed by your amount: £1, £2 £3 £4 £5 or £10, to 70070. If you’re a UK taxpayer, you can Gift Aid donations using either method. Carl has started a Twitter campaign to ask 250,000 people to donate £1 each – some people have more followers than 250,000 followers on Twitter, so if you can retweet his message to your own followers, that would be great too.
Tony blogged about Sam on Monday and we’ve been so touched to see our friends, who don’t know Sam or his family, donating money and sending messages of support. That’s amazing; you’re all amazing!
Update: What I didn’t properly realise back when I wrote this is that they need to raise the money by about June this year to be able to send him for the treatment. As of today (10th April), they’ve raised an amazing £26,000. Still a long way to go in a very short time but they’re getting more and more support every day.
Update 28th May: By bank holiday weekend, Team Sam (everyone raising money for the Sam Shaw Appeal) had raised £90,000! They’re over a third of the way to their target.