A TEENAGE cancer sufferer said his own fight has inspired him to help others as he continues to battle the condition.
Jack Edwards, 13, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last year, characterised by the over-production of cancerous, immature white blood cells.
The Mold Alun School pupil has been forced to miss countless school days and opportunities to socialise with friends due to the disease, but is keen to raise money to help other children facing similar conditions.
“I do miss going to school and seeing my friends,” Jack told the Leader. “I have been off quite a bit. I did do a full day when the new school year began last September but it put me back in hospital for nearly a month.”
Jack’s condition means he often has little or no immune system, leaving him susceptible to infections which have resulted in blood transfusions and yet more stays in hospital – once succumbing to one of the worst cases of shingles doctors said they had ever seen.
Visiting the children’s cancer ward at the Countess of Chester hospital came as a shock to him, but Jack said: “It was nice to see the children playing even though they were attached to different machines.”
His experiences have inspired him to want to become a doctor, but he said he has one more mountain to climb as he bids to go full circle after his condition came to light while trying to climb Moel Famau as part of a sponsored walk with his school.
He could not complete that climb, but now he intends to crack the ascent.
His mother Joanne also spoke of the “devastating” news of her son’s diagnosis, which completely turned the family’s life around.
The 46-year-old, of Mold, said: “He had a day off school the day before after being sent home because he had been tired and aching, but he wanted to do the Moel Famau walk the next day. Then I got a call telling me he was too ill and not able to do it. The teacher told me Jack was out of breath and had turned grey.
“We took him to the doctor and they did blood tests. Initially they thought he might be anaemic but then he went for a bone marrow biopsy and that’s when we found out.
“I was devastated. They started treating him the same day and he was in hospital for two weeks. It has changed our lives completely.”
Jack immediately began chemotherapy and underwent scans to see how the treatment was affecting the rest of his body.
“He just got on with it,” Joanne said. “But he had to have long line drips and lots of tablets.”
Harry Potter fan Jack shares his love of the stories with his mum and has visited the studios in London and at Universal Studios in America.
Joanne said: “We are focusing on the positives. Jack has a good sense of humour. Laughter has got him and us through many bad times.
“He hadn’t seen his friends for quite a while but I will never forget the day I could hear him shouting and laughing with them online while he played on his Xbox after months without any real contact.”
Jack has also been helped by family pet Kimi, a Yorkshire terrier and spaniel cross breed bought just weeks before he was diagnosed.
“Kimi has been a great help to him,” Joanne added. Jack wasn’t able to do much last summer but he did play in the garden with Kimi, splashing her with the water hose.”
Jack, who has been learning to play the bass guitar while dealing with his illness, is now in remission but is still taking numerous chemotherapy tablets, steroids and chemotherapy sessions on his spine in hospital.
“I didn’t want to tell anyone he was in remission at first as I was so frightened in case he had a relapse,” Joanne said.
Jack and Joanne, as well as dad Wayne, 48, brother Dominic, 26, and sister Amber, 16, now want to raise awareness of children’s cancer symptoms and Jack remains keen to tackle Moel Famau in aid of childhood cancer charities.
All being well he is due to complete his treatment shortly before his 16th birthday, just over two years from now.
See full story in the Leader