British Boy Who Came to Singapore for Aggressive Cancer Finally Heads Home
“We had to take the risk, and it paid off. It’s a miracle," Oscar's mum said.
Oscar Saxelby-Lee, a six-year-old British boy finally heads home to the UK after a successful experimental treatment for aggressive cancer in Singapore where he emerged cancer-free for about six months.
His family flew home on the night of Thursday (25 June).
It has been a life-changing experience for them, considering that prior to Oscar’s treatment in Singapore, UK doctors said he only had months left to live.
Oscar was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in December 2018. It is said to start in the bone marrow and invades the blood rapidly.
Olivia and Jamie, Oscar’s parents, were said to have learned of the news just three days after celebrating Christmas in 2018, according to reports.
Despite rounds of intensive chemotherapy—which forced him into isolation—radiotherapy, to stem cell transplants, which doctors thought would be the cure, the cancer cells continued to multiply.
He was described as a “non-responder” to the treatments which also left him “weak and tired”.
Experimental Treatment was Last Hope
UK doctors said to Oscar’s parents that they have exhausted all treatment options in the UK, leaving only palliative care to help reduce Oscar’s suffering and improve the quality of life.
Oscar’s last hope came when doctors from the National University of Singapore (NUS) responded to the family’s call with a new experimental treatment.
The family raised £500,000 (S$863,000) within weeks to fund Oscar’s treatment, and flew to Singapore in mid November last year. His cancer cells had multiplied by 100 times in just two months, bringing the cancer count to about 1 per cent.
Apart from Oscar, only one other child in the world received this treatment.
Even so, it was not guaranteed that the treatment would work.
“There was every doubt it wasn’t going to work. This treatment wasn’t even at trial level – it’s compassionate,” Oscar’s mum Olivia explained in an interview with CNA.
He had spent 10 months in isolation in hospital by the time he arrived in Singapore. In addition, he also lost a massive amount of weight, faced difficulties in walking and developed bruises on his legs due to strain from walking.
Oscar’s cancer cells were at 7 per cent when he was ready to start treatment on Christmas Eve last year.
“We had to take the risk, and it paid off”
By mid-January, Oscar was rid of all cancer cells in his blood.
However, he was said to have suffered from serious side effects from the four rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, isolation, two stem cell transplants and experimental treatment.
Oscar’s immune system also took a severe hit, with ulcers and sores appearing in his mouth as well as bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.
He also suffered from brain damage and lost all of his speech, and developed osteopenia—a condition where bone mass is lost and bones become brittle.
However, the damage was reversible according to doctors, with medication prescribed to Oscar. His parents have also provided help in the process, exercising Oscar’s legs and aiding his movement around the house.
While Oscar struggled to walk and still suffers from tremors, he is said to begin walking again without assistance.
Still, the little warrior was said to have maintained a smile on his face, despite the trauma and obstacles faced at such a young age.
“We had to take the risk, and it paid off. It’s a miracle. The team at NUH are just phenomenal, and they are so special to us now,” said Olivia.
Oscar is said to fly back in about six months’ time for a check-up to make sure he has remained in remission. Once in the UK, he will go for regular checkups at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, near his home in Worcester.
Lead image via Facebook screengrab/Hand in Hand for Oscar
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