Fresh hope for St Albans cancer boy Bailey

PUBLISHED: 06:33 23 November 2012

Bailey Sarwa with good friend Louise Bateman, photographed at a recent fundraiser.

Bailey Sarwa with good friend Louise Bateman, photographed at a recent fundraiser.

Archant

THERE has been a major positive turning point in the health of a brave St Albans boy who has spent 12 months undergoing gruelling treatment to fight a recurrence of a rare cancer.

Thirteen-year-old Bailey Sarwa has joined just nine other children in the UK to be offered the chance to be included in an antibody trial.

About a year ago tests showed that the then 12-year-old Bailey had suffered a relapse of neuroblastoma – a cancer he had successfully fought at just four years of age.

He immediately started months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to fight the cancer, as Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) initially refused to give him antibody treatment.

Recent tests have shown, however, that determined Bailey now has no cancer in his bones and his bone marrow is also clear.

His father, Chris Sarwa, said that unfortunately the disease was still present in the top part of his son’s left leg.

He added: “That means that a year of treatment has cleared 90 per cent of the cancer.”

Bailey has just begun the trial at GOSH.

Chris said that while he was delighted the hospital had offered Bailey the chance to take part in the trial, it is very hard on Bailey.

After being injected in his left leg on the first day he immediately suffered flu-like symptoms and his temperature soared on day two.

Chris said: “It’s so hard watching and hearing your kid, your flesh and blood, going through this.”

On Monday he started the second part of his first treatment – one of five rounds.

Bailey’s mum Becki Jones admitted she was worried about the trial, but it was the only antibody treatment available in the UK for her son, as it was not usually offered to children who had suffered a relapse.

She said: “It’s going to be brutal. This was a massive decision. The oncologist has worked 24/7 to try and open the trial here to relapsed children.”

Becki admitted: “We are waiting on a miracle.”

Dr Penelope Brock, who is leading the latest UK trial, said the second antibody trial has now opened in this country and the first few children had started receiving treatment.

She added: “All UK children who are not eligible for the other high-risk neuroblastoma trial open in the UK will be considered for this trial, to ensure that any child who is likely to benefit is considered for enrolment.

“The treatment involves five cycles of continuous infusion given over a 10-day period per cycle.”

Dr Brock explained: “The infusion contains an antibody which sticks to any neuroblastoma cells it finds in the body. Once ‘labelled’ with the antibody, the cancer cells are more easily recognised by the body’s own immune system.

“Overall, the treatment takes about six months to complete, with the children spending a few weeks in hospital during each cycle.”

To donate to the Bailey Sarwa Appeal, which has so far raised about £150,000 for the teenager’s treatment, go to www.baileysarwa.co.uk

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