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Patrick is home for the holidays

Christmas together

By Francesca Ryan

Just one year ago, vigils were bring held to pray for the recovery of an eight year-old boy who was waiting for a life-saving cancer operation.

Brave Patrick Campbell spent last Christmas in an isolation unit in a Bristol hospital – this year he’s on the road to recovery and looking forward to Christmas at home with his family in Crumlin.

Patrick’s mother Mairead, who last year was appealing to people to light candles and pray for a miracle, is today preparing the house for a very special Christmas with her husband and two children. Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Mairead says she is delighted to have her son home for Christmas – but she cautions that the fight is not over yet.

“Patrick was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, almost three years ago,” she said.  “He was put on steroids and put in an induced coma and then underwent seven months of chemotherapy. Initially all was going well but 21 months into the treatment, it came back aggressively.

“I was given a number of options, including a toxic chemotherapy with just a 10 per cent chance of success, but 10 per cent is 10 per cent and why couldn’t my Patrick be in that 10 per cent?”

Mairead pushed for her son to get the chemo in Bristol, meaning that if it was successful he could get a bone marrow transplant at the same hospital, removing any chance of infection from travelling or other external factors.

“I phoned the hospital myself and begged them to take him and they did so last December,” she explained.  “On January 20, Patrick had the bone marrow transplant and so far it has been successful, he is doing very well.”

While Patrick continues to recover at home, Mairead has busied herself reading up on the rare cancer and she is pulling out all the stops to ensure the cruel disease is kept at bay and her young son has the best chance of survival.

“I got some blood tests done privately and they show there is minimal residual disease in Patrick’s body so I am working on building him up with supplements so any leftover cancer cells don’t cause a relapse.

“I have changed his diet completely, I also give him green tea, wheatgrass, filtered water, garlic, anything to try and flush his wee body out.  It’s costing up to £800 a month for his supplements but I just want to know every way I can help him. I’ve gone down the traditional medicine route and given him everything in my power and while some people are sceptical about the supplements he is getting, I know his body needs help so I’m being proactive to try and stop it coming back. I’m giving his body the best chance for this hard fight.”

Mairead’s research has also indicated that a cancer-controlling gene in Patrick’s body may not be working at full power and his family are considering launching a campaign to raise the funds for therapy to correct the gene.

“A gene called P53 can control the cancer cells and, as Patrick still has minimal residual disease, we would want that gene fixed to do its job. This therapy is called genedicine and costs £80,000,. We don’t have that sort of money and will be looking into launching a fundraising campaign next year to gather the cash.

“We have come this far and I can’t stop now. I’m his mother and as long as he keeps fighting, then we will too.

“I’m so happy to have Patrick home now when I compare it to last year,” she added.  “He is in good form, he is playing away with his sister and is looking forward to Christmas this year. We all are.”

For more information or to follow Patrick’s progress, log on to the Pray for Patrick Facebook page.

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