Welwyn toddler’s brain cancer battle

PUBLISHED: 10:07 09 July 2017

Susanna and James Price with their children Benny, three, and Charlotte, five. Picture: Danny Loo

Susanna and James Price with their children Benny, three, and Charlotte, five. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A devoted mother has told the Welwyn Hatfield Times how her toddler son has battled an aggressive brain tumour for survival over the last year.

Benny Price, born in January 2014 to James and Susanna Price of Woodacre Drive, Welwyn, was diagnosed with brain cancer in August, but is currently responding well to treatment.

Susanna, 38, said that initially medical staff had dismissed Benny’s repeated vomiting and clumsiness as a virus until she insisted they take her fears more seriously.

She said: “He was fine until July, but then he started walking into things.

“He could not walk in a straight line. Then he started being sick all the time.

”We took him to A and E four or five times in a week. I knew there was something wrong.”

A scan found a tumour in her son’s cerebellum, a vital part of the brain located in the rear of the skull.

Susanna said: “It sounds weird, but I was relieved that I knew what it was. I don’t think I cried, but it was a complete shock.”

Benny was transferred immediately to Addenbrookes’s Hospital in Cambridge, where the tumour was removed in an operation lasting eight and a half hours.

Susanna said: “They said there was a one in ten chance he would not survive. They did not know whether they could remove it.

“But they did a really good job. It was amazing. There were 30 people in the room to look after him. The consultant cancelled his holiday to look after Ben. It was the NHS at its best.”

However, the next month was very tough for Benny and his parents, as the operation left him unable to swallow, speak or walk.

Susanna said: “That was the worst time.

“He could not be touched. He was upset all the time, and he did not know who he was.

“He was not my lovely caring little boy any more.”

Over this time, Susanna, James and Benny’s older sister Charlotte had the use of Acorn House, a residential unit at Addenbrooke’s funded by the Sick Children’s Trust.

Benny’s further treatment has included fitting an Ommaya reservoir to his head to allow fluid to be released if necessary, and intensive chemotherapy, ending in February.

The symptoms were extremely unpleasant, including vomiting thick gloop and ulcers throughout Benny’s body that filled his mouth with blood.

Benny will probably never be able to father children, and James and Susanna have been warned the cancer could return within the next 18 months.

But his latest scan results, received in June, were clear, and the family are facing their uncertain future with hope.

Susanna, a chemistry graduate, thanks her scientific background and James’ parental intuition for giving them the confidence to challenge dismissive medical staff.

She said: “If we had not questioned it, he would have had two weeks to live.”

Susanna added: “We are really grateful to the Sick Children’s Trust, which kept us together as a family at a very difficult time.”

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