A child’s first day at primary school is emotional for most parents, but for Rachel and Stephen Walker, it was all the more special.
Their four-year-old son Ryan joined brother Ethan, seven, at St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School last week, after beating a rare form of childhood cancer.
“You would never know he’s been poorly. He a boy’s boy, very rough and tumble. But I just want to keep him as he is, my gorgeous little baby.”Rachel Walker
Ryan, from Penwortham, was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour 12 months ago after Rachel, who works as a support secretary at the cancer unit at Royal Preston Hospital, spotted blood in his nappy.
He began an immediate course of chemotherapy at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, which successfully shrunk the tumour.
And after undergoing surgery to remove the tumour and his kidney, the brave youngster has completed a 28-week course of chemotherapy and has been given the all clear.
“It is a relief,” mum Rachel said. “The treatment is all done and dusted now, so we can only hope and pray that it doesn’t come back.
“We were nervous and anxious leading up to the check-up in August, we were paranoid, and I imagine that will happen again when we go for the next scan just before Christmas.
“But until then, we’re just trying to get back to normal.”
She added: “Ryan started school last Monday and he’s really loving it.
“He’s the baby of the class but he’s happy and he has masses of energy - he just doesn’t stop from the moment he wakes up.
“You would never know he’s been poorly. He a boy’s boy, very rough and tumble. But I just want to keep him as he is, my gorgeous little baby.”
The Walkers are now backing a campaign to raise awareness and money for research into childhood cancers.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens has teamed up with TK Maxx for the Give Up Clothes for Good scheme.
People are asked to drop off any unwanted clothing, accessories and quality homeware in the permanent bins provided in TK Maxx stores, and when resold in Cancer Research UK shops, the donations will help fund research into cures and kinder treatments for cancers affecting children, teenagers and young adults.
Rachel, 33, said: “We’ve done a lot of fund-raising in the last year for Manchester Children’s Hospital and The Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group; it was one of Stephen’s coping mechanisms.
“At the moment we’re focusing on spending precious family time together, but if sharing our story will help raise awareness and encourage people to donate to the campaign, that’s a good thing.
“Despite me working in the cancer unit, we were quite naive to childhood cancer.
“We’re so grateful for the treatment that saved Ryan’s life, and success stories like ours would not be possible without Cancer Research UK’s work.
“Hopefully the more money people can raise, the quicker we’ll all be able to beat this.
“We don’t want anyone to have to experience what we’ve been through.”
For more information, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens.