Chesterfield charity, Kids ‘n’ Cancer has offered a helping hand to the family of five-year-old Ashya King who is seriously ill with brain cancer.
Ashya’s parents Brett and Naghemeh were arrested in Spain following an international search after taking Ashya from Southampton General Hospital, without doctors’ consent, on Thursday afternoon.
They had travelled with his siblings on a ferry to France in pursuit of specialist cancer treatment which medics in the UK had refused to sanction.
The parents said the decision was made after doctors in the UK said there was no more they could do for Ashya, and the family were looking to fund a £90,000 treatment known as proton beam therapy.
Kids ‘n’ Cancer was established by Chesterfield couple Mike and June Hyman in 2010.
To date, Chesterfield-based Kids ‘n’ Cancer UK has helped more than 70 families world-wide to access proton therapy in both Oklahoma City and Jacksonville Florida, raising more than £2m in the process.
Mike Hyman said: “We are getting in contact with the family to see how Kids ‘n’ Cancer can help. We are very experienced in these cases and believe that we have the resources to support the family and Ashya.”
Kids ‘n’ Cancer not only sometimes helps pay towards the cost of the treatment in some cases, but it also provides funds to allow members of the child’s family to be with them in America for three months – which is the usual treatment period before they fly back to the UK.
Mike added: “Ultimately, our aim is to see Kids ‘n’ Cancer go from strength to strength and make a difference to the lives of young cancer patients and their families. We want to see proton therapy in the UK to enable patients to access the treatment with fewer patients having to travel abroad.”
The UK is set to create proton therapy centres in Christies Clinic Manchester and University College Hospital London within the next five years. Proton treatment is an effective form of therapy because it directs radiation treatment to precisely where it is needed with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. The treatment is particularly suitable to complex childhood cancers and rare tumours affecting the base of the skull or spine.
This month’s Chesterfield and Derbyshire Marathon, the idea of Mike and June, will benefit Kids ‘n’ Cancer UK, along with other local good causes. More than 1,400 people have signed-up to the race which includes a full marathon, half marathon, relay race and fun run.
At the event will be a reunion of children from the UK who have received proton therapy with the doctors and medical staff from America who helped treat the youngsters.