Brave Wheathampstead boy Freddie winning his battle against cancer

AGAINST all the odds, brave Freddie Rowe-Crowder has moved into remission after spending more than two years courageously battling an aggressive cancer which doctors initially thought would cost him his life.

The inspirational nine-year-old from Wheathampstead, joint winner of the Mayor’s Pride award for Child of Courage, was given a matter of weeks to live in September 2009 after chemotherapy, transplants and a major operation failed to provide a cure for the advanced neuroblastoma which had spread all over his body and into his bones.

But the St Helen’s School pupil didn’t let the cancer – which was diagnosed the previous February – beat him and he made it past Christmas only for his family to discover that there was a new pioneering treatment in Germany offering a glimmer of hope.

It did however come with a huge price tag of more than �60,000 and, in the absence of any NHS funding, his family, friends and school then faced a huge uphill struggle to raise the funds needed for the potentially life-saving treatment.

So, after hearing about Freddie’s plight in April last year, the Herts Advertiser launched a campaign to support the fundraising efforts and within just a few weeks the full sum was raised.

What followed was five gruelling and painful rounds of the ground-breaking treatment in Germany spanning eight months which Freddie handled with incredible grace despite it leaving him extremely ill at times. The results were incredible with Freddie able to lead a relatively normal life and doctors decided to give him a course of radiotherapy earlier this year in order for him to have the best possible chance of long-term recovery.

After the radiotherapy finished last month, Freddie’s dad Tep said: “He undertook the treatment with his usual good humour and brightened the visits to hospital with his constant chatter and energy. Any description cannot give justice to our elation at seeing our child so well after so much pain. I certainly pray that none of your readers ever have to go through this.”

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Then, last week, the family were given the news of the latest set of scans which have resulted in Freddie being moved into remission.

Tep explained: “Though there are a couple of abnormalities on the scans, there’s nothing new and the consensus is that we now move to the remission stage. This will involve monitoring his general health and seeing the consultant at ever-lengthening periods.

“Freddie doesn’t have to return to Great Ormond Street for another three months. God willing, it will then be a further six months and finally annual checks until he’s about 15. Obviously, with cancer and neuroblastoma particuarly, there is no ‘all clear’ at the end of treatment. That will only truly come if the disease does not return in the next five to seven years.

“Having said that, this is, of course incredible news. This little guy was given a matter of weeks to live in September 2009 and today he can start to look forward with ever greater confidence to a full life. That confidence will increase with every passing consultation.

“It took a while for the news to sink in but, as the day wore on, Freddie became happier and happier with the realisation that this could mean no more needles, no more stays in hospital, no more drugs that make you sick...Wouldn’t that be great?

“And, of course, without the generosity and prayers of your readers, the Hertfordshire public and the general public, this wouldn’t have happened. Thank you all for the part you have played in saving Freddie’s life.”

Freddie has not only shown remarkable courage, he has also blazed a trail for other children suffering with the same disease as his plight has highlighted the benefit of the anti-body treatment which will hopefully see it offered to others like him here in the UK.

And through his story being covered by the Herts Advertiser, Tep has started working with the Neuroblastoma Society and support charity Adam’s Hats, and recently spoke at a conference about Freddie’s story.

Tep added: “All those kind and generous Herts Advertiser readers have played a part in where we are today in the treatment of Neuroblastoma and I thank them most humbly.

“I pray that Freddie will have no need of the better and enhanced treatments to come, but I know for certain that other children will. All equally as deserving of life. I’ll certainly be trying to increase my involvement. So, in future, if your readers see me or anyone else rattling tins or running races for Neuroblastoma Research and Support, I hope they’ll remember Freddie and remember that they can make a difference.”