Since then, a his fundraising effort in his honour has raised more than £25,000 to help transform the ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital which saved his life.
Oliver’s mum Sally recalls his diagnosis: “He had been suffering with tonsillitis for around ten days and the antibiotics he had been given weren’t working.
“I knew something wasn’t right, so I took him back to the doctors and they sent him for a blood test to check for glandular fever. We went to the walk-in blood clinic at Sheffield Children’s and within a couple of hours, we received a phone call asking us to go back.
“That’s when they gave us the news he had leukaemia. It was a total shock, we thought the blood test would show he had glandular fever and be off for a few weeks feeling tired, we were completely unprepared for a cancer diagnosis.”
MPAL is a very rare form of leukaemia which has combined features of myeloid and lymphoid cancers. It affects fewer than five per cent of children and adults diagnosed with leukaemia. As a result, Oliver began intensive treatment on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s, which included more than three years of chemotherapy.
Mum Sally continues: “The care on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward and the Haematology Clinic was incredible. They have been like a family to us for three years and we will be eternally grateful, they are true superheroes!”
Shortly after Oliver’s diagnosis, The Children’s Hospital Charity began an appeal to transform the ward providing his treatment with new facilities.
Sally adds: “We were on the ward for around 10 days when Oliver was first diagnosed so he could have his line fitted as well as a blood transfusion and medication to fight the other infections his body was struggling to cope with.
“The facilities on the old ward weren’t the best and definitely could have been improved, but the gold star care from all the staff made up for it! We have been in and out of the ward many, many times over the past few years for different treatments - it became like a second home so it’s great that the new facilities will really make it feel more homely!”
The transformation maximises the view of Weston Park, making patients feel connected to the outside whilst they are getting better. There is also a larger playroom situated in the heart of the ward and improved spaces for parents to stay with their children.
Patients have already moved onto the ward, and it will be complete later this year as finishing touches, including bespoke artwork for patients and families, are being installed over the coming weeks by the Charity’s arts programme, Artfelt.
Adding to the fundraising was a huge total raised in Oliver’s honour, through his Auntie Nicola. Nicola has raised more than £4,400 for the appeal as well as organising wider fundraising efforts for Sheffield Children’s within her team at HSBC, raising over £20,000.
Sally continues: “We are so lucky to have Nic in our lives, she is one of the most caring, thoughtful and determined people I know. As soon as Oliver was diagnosed, she sprung into action and started all sorts of fundraising projects which she continues to this day.
“We are so proud of her and so grateful that the money she and HSBC have raised has gone towards making the facilities better not only for Oliver but for so many others too, she is an inspiration.”
Nicola explains: “I have met so many amazing people and becoming involved in Team Theo has made me more determined to continue fundraising for this amazing charity – the work they do to support the NHS is world class.
“Working for HSBC has given me a massive amount of support from colleagues who were all keen to get involved and support raising money in all ways they could. I am so grateful for all their support. HSBC have supported The Children’s Hospital Charity for a number of years and together we can continue this for many years to come.”
Thanks to the care Oliver received, he was able to ring the bell at a special event at Weston Park Museum, across the road from Sheffield Children’s, for family and friends last year.
Sally added: “The bell ringing was amazing- it seems like such a simple thing but it really did mark the end of an immensely difficult journey. Oliver is our little superhero and it was so special that he got to share his moment of celebration in a place that has meant so much during his treatment- the museum really was a sanctuary for him.
“We are just so grateful for everything everyone has done for us over the last three years- we are so lucky to have amazing friends and family, an incredible hospital on our doorstep with equally incredible doctors and nurses and of course, the wonderful NHS!”
Oliver continues to be under the care at Sheffield Children’s, having monthly blood tests and clinic appointments, which alternate between face-to-face and telephone consultations.
To find out more about The Children’s Hospital Charity’s work transforming Sheffield Children’s, please visit: www.tchc.org.uk
Friday, February 4 marks World Cancer Day to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.