Fingers-crossed for Freddie as he undergoes tests to find out if treatment is working

A MUCH-deserved break was enjoyed by brave Freddie Rowe-Crowder last week ahead of the gruelling fourth round of cancer treatment which will hopefully save his life.

The eight year old from Wheathampstead, who had been given just months to live around this time last year, spent the holiday at Center Parcs in Norfolk running around, swimming and cycling as any boy of his age should.

Since starting the pioneering anti-body treatment in Germany, which was made possible by a Herts Advertiser fundraising campaign to support the efforts of his school, friends and family to raise the �60,000 sum needed, Freddie has gone from strength to strength.

He has put on weight, his energy levels are high and, thankfully, the side effects from the immunotherapy treatment he is taking between cycles have been low.

Throughout his ordeal – which started in February last year when he was first diagnosed with the cancer, called neuroblastoma – Freddie has shown a remarkable and inspirational fighting spirit and has taken his treatment in remarkably good grace, blowing away doctors with his bravery.

The St Helen’s School pupil completed the third cycle of the pioneering anti-body treatment in Germany late last month and headed back to the country this week with dad Tep Crowder for the fourth and hopefully final round of treatment following a set of tests to establish whether the therapy is working.

Tep said: “A very pleasant, though long journey. It was the total opposite of those made here at the start of treatment. Then he was so ill he had to be carried and was sick from the treatment and infection he’d picked up. He’s really come a long way.”

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Freddie will undergo staging tests, a minor operation to check his bone marrow for the cancer and various tests of his hearing, breathing and heart to check that the treatment isn’t inflicting too much collateral damage.

Finally, there will be an MRI and an MIBG scan, the latter requiring Freddie to be injected with a radioactive isotope that attaches itself to the cancer cells and then light up on the scanner. It is likely to be the most important test as it provides the most detail.

Freddie, his family and friends will be praying that the results come back positive. Tep said: “I think he certainly deserves a bit of good news, for the effort he’s put in and the manner in which he’s handled such a terrible ordeal.”

Following the fourth cycle of treatment, there is a possibility that he will require further rounds but his family and doctors are hoping it won’t be needed.

In any case, Great Ormond Street have confirmed – as they did when Freddie’s family found out about the treatment – that there would still be no funding available on the NHS, but his consultant will continue to appeal on principle.

Other children from the UK have now started following in Freddie’s footsteps and are undergoing the treatment in Germany but Tep said it had highlighted the huge disparities in funding of this kind.

Tep continued: “One boy originally treated in Leicestershire is being funded by his local healthcare trust, while another boy, originally treated in Oxfordshire, has had to rely on his parents’ ability to meet the bills.

“This is probably the case for a whole array of illnesses and it could perhaps be viewed against the ethos of the original National Health Service dream (free health care for all? Or was it dependant on where you live or who could shout loudest?).

“This has made me understand even more, how fortunate we have been that Lisa Hobden and the Herts Advertiser took up Freddie’s cause. Without you two stirring up an incredibly generous readership and local population, our hope and another little life might have been extinguished. As it is, our hope is strong and maybe, just maybe...”