A FAMILY has spoken of how their world was 'turned upside down' when their 11-year-old son was diagnosed with bone cancer.

The Cuthbert family, from Bedale, have shared their story during Cancer Awareness Month to highlight the work of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation's projects for young cancer patients at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.

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Bailey Cuthbert stayed at the hospital after a lump on his wrist was found to be the bone cancer, osteosarcoma, in March 2020 - the start of lockdown.

Covid safety restrictions added to the unreality and upset for parents Elaine and Dean and Bailey's brother, Freddie.

Visitor numbers were extremely limited and Bailey was in hospital 50-miles away from home.

He required a 14-hour operation to remove the tumour and transplant bone and tissue from his leg into his wrist, fusing it in place using metal rods.

He also needed chemotherapy and, in total, spent 149 nights in hospital.

Mum Elaine stayed with him for most of that time, with Dean looking after Freddie at home and keeping in touch with Bailey via phone and visiting whenever permitted under Covid restrictions.

Dean said: “Bailey’s diagnosis hit us like a tonne of bricks.

"It just turned our world upside down. But we have to live with it, stick together and be strong. And Bailey’s been the strongest."

Bailey was helped during his hospital stay by Gareth Williams who coordinates a children’s support project, funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and delivered by Newcastle United Foundation

Gareth offers patients the chance to take part in recreational activities, indoor sports games and educational opportunities.

It offers respite for patients throughout – encouraging them to play, laugh, learn and stay active alongside their loved ones.

Just before Christmas 2020, Bailey rang the end of treatment bell and headed home to Bedale.

His family are full of praise for the treatment and care he received from all the hospital team.

Dean said: “We’re very grateful to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation because Gareth made a big difference to Bailey.

"I couldn’t always be there because of Covid restrictions but whenever I had chat with him on the phone I could see his face was beaming because Gareth had been.

The Northern Echo:

Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle

“In fact, I was enjoying Gareth’s visits as much as Bailey.

"Just knowing he was having fun, being entertained and getting out of bed for basketball or skittles.

"Daft competitions between the different wards. He changed the day for Bailey and we’re very grateful.”

Gareth says: “My role is to help keep young patients active and engaged, to give them something positive to look forward to.

"There’s no such thing as a typical day because everything depends on how well the children feel that day.

"We can tailor and plan activities but we need to react and respond to their needs on a daily basis.

“It’s great to be able to do things that get them out of bed, so indoor sports like curling and, if not, we can do other activities like building Lego football stadiums.

“I’ve really enjoyed Bailey’s company and it was a privilege to support him while he had treatment.

The Northern Echo:

Gareth with Bailey during his treatment

"His hospital stay was very difficult because of lockdown but he’s always tried to get involved with anything I’ve suggested.

"He’s a great little lad with a great sense of humour. An absolute delight.”

In addition to funding Gareth’s role, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation also funds four posts within the Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer Unit.

This team, based at the Great North Children’s Hospital and Newcastle University’s Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, helps find more effective cancer treatments for children and young people and is often describes as the ‘Sir Bobby Robson Centre for children.’

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Led by Consultant Paediatric Oncologist, Dr Quentin Campbell-Hewson, it is embedded within the hospital’s clinical service, meaning research is not separate from routine care of patients and nearly all young patients are involved in clinical trial studies.

This ensures they receive the most up-to-date therapy possible and that progress continues to be made in developing better care.

Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 as a fund within the Newcastle Hospitals Charity.

It has gone on to raise over £15m to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer, working within the NHS and in partnership with other leading charities and organisations.

The charity funds a range of cutting-edge cancer treatment and innovative cancer support services that directly benefit patients from across the North-East and Cumbria and which play a significant role in the international fight against the disease.

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