Eight-year-old raising awareness of the biggest cancer killer for children – while fighting for his life a third time

Mum Jess Mitchell is just trying to keep her son alive long enough to find a cure...
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  • Like any other eight-year-old boy, Dylan Mitchell is full of fun and mischief as he plays with his brothers Elliot, six, and Jake, 10.

    WORDS: CAROL DYCE

    Yet, Dylan is fighting for his life for a third time since doctors found a cancerous tumour the size of a golfball in his head when he was just two in May 2014. He was diagnosed with medullobla stoma – the most common high-grade childhood brain tumour.

    Dylan then bravely battled through his first round of chemotherapy, which ended that December. Yet, within two months, the highly aggressive tumour had recurred. However, this time it’d spread throughout his brain and spine. Gruelling treatment followed, which left him suffering brain and spinal damage, until, after two years, he was given the all clear.

    My boy has never known a life before brain cancer

    Dylan playing with his mum and brothers

    Sadly, for Dylan, a second relapse hit out the blue in July 2018. This time, the tumour and gruelling intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy have left him with major health problems. He has damage to his hearing and cognitive abilities as well as abnormally functioning bowels and bladder and radiotherapy burns.

    My boy has never known a life before brain cancer

    His mum, Jess, is now working with The Brain Tumour Charity. Together they have released an emotive video for Brain Tumour Awareness Month this March which highlights the devastating impact of the disease on her ‘adorable, loving’ son.

    ‘It was very emotional doing the video,’ Jess admits. ‘But I did it because I want to help The Brain Tumour Charity raise awareness that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK.’

    ‘A cure truly can’t wait’

    ‘There’s no known cure – children with relapse medulloblastoma usually die within 10-20 months,’ she says in tears.

    ‘I’m not prepared to roll over and let this disease take my son after everything he’s been through to stay alive. I hope Dylan is going to be in the 1 per cent that is going to respond to treatment and live happily ever after. We’re a really close team and I’m glad Dylan is still part of our team – he always will be. A cure truly can’t wait.’

    Poignantly, Jess adds it is a ‘blessing’ Dylan was diagnosed at two. ‘It’s so sad that brain cancer is all he’s ever known. But, in a way, it’s a blessing as he doesn’t remember or miss a life before diagnosis. And now everything Dylan is going through is an attempt to keep him alive long enough to find a cure.’

    READ MORE: Brain tumour symptoms in children

    My boy has never known a life before brain cancer

    Brain tumour awareness month

    Sarah Lindsell, The Brain Tumour Charity’s chief executive, said, ‘Our hearts go out to Jess and her family as Dylan faces his second relapse of this brutal disease. We are incredibly grateful to her for sharing her beautiful boy’s story in our video to raise awareness and vital funds during Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Despite brain tumours killing more children and under-40s in the UK than any other cancer, less than 3% of the £500m spent on cancer research a year is spent on brain tumours.’

    The Brain Tumour Charity is holding The Big Bake throughout Brain Tumour Awareness Month in March.

     

     

    Videographer: Matt Bowie

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