The family of a three-year-old boy taken to hospital with earache were devastated to be told he has leukaemia – but are staying positive by launching a £10,000 fundraising campaign to help other young sufferers.
Little Lucas Devaney, of Gosberton Risegate, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia – cancer of the white blood cells and bone marrow - on March 9 after his parents took him to the Johnson Community Hospital because he was suffering from repeated ear and throat infections.
When his temperature wouldn’t drop he was transferred to Peterborough City Hospital where a routine blood test led to the shocking diagnosis.
Mum Joanne (30) and dad Gareth (36), of Siltside, hope the cancer has been caught early and say the toddler is responding well to the three-year treatment plan prescribed, which includes chemotherapy and steroids.
“It’s all been quite a whirlwind, and such a shock to the system,” said Joanne, a sales consultant at Thomas Cook, in Spalding.
“Lucas had been poorly on and off for about five or six weeks – he was just catching one infection after another and had been on anti-biotics for nine days.
“It was the weekend and he’d been up all night complaining of earache, so rather than wait until Monday I took him to the Johnson.”
Doctors then sent Lucas to Peterborough where a chest X-ray and blood tests were carried out.
“He seemed absolutely fine in himself, we’d just popped to the hospital shop and when we got back they came and told us they were 99 per cent sure it was Leukaemia.
“We just couldn’t believe it,” Joanne added.
Still in shock, the family were sent to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, which confirmed their worst fears and Lucas started a course of chemotherapy immediately. This treatment will be followed by a maintenance phase allowing him to grow up normally, play with his friends at Gosberton Pre-School and go to school.
“He doesn’t really understand much about it, other than that he has to keep going to hospital,” said Joanne.
“He has been incredibly brave. We are a positive family and we know we are going to get through this, although there is a long three years ahead of us and it is still very early days.
“There will be ups and downs, but we’re just trying to stay positive – everyone has been wonderful so far and the medical staff are heroes.” The idea for fundraising in aid of Addenbrookes’ C2 ward where Lucas is treated and Children with Cancer UK was sparked by his older brother Ethan (5).
He started playing his guitar one night with a cup next to him and told Joanne he was raising money for his little brother.
The kind thought snowballed and thanks to family, friends and colleagues the Devaney’s have already raised more than £7,200 to help young cancer sufferers.
More events planned include a classic car show at Ye Olde White Horse, Spalding, on Sunday, May 24, while Gareth, who works for Network Security, plans to climb England’s highest mountain Scarfell Pike and complete a Coast to Coast cycle ride.
A Cruise for Cancer gathering in Spalding, from 4pm, on May 31 has also been organised by car enthusiasts, with more than 1,200 owners pledging their attendance at Sainsbury’s Holland Market via a Facebook event page.
Its organiser Joe Hennessey (26), of Holbeach, says it will be a peaceful gathering united in one cause – “to help kick cancer’s backside”.
“It doesn’t matter how little or large donations are, anything counts towards these charities,” said Joanne.
“We have seen first-hand where the donations go – Addenbrookes has offered nothing but support and expert guidance since the diagnosis. These people are absolute heroes, their dedication and professionalism in the face of such unimaginable hardship is inspiring.”
* Donations can be made online via the family’s Virgin Money fundraising page - Lucas Devaney’s Fundraising Page – search Gareth Devaney to locate it.