A TODDLER faces a fight for life after cancer took hold of his little body in a matter of days.
Though devastated by the diagnosis, Kian Armstrong, two, and his family are determined to battle against the neuroblastoma tumour which requires at least a year of treatment.
Just a week after developing symptoms, the Castletown youngster was diagnosed with the rapidly spreading disease in his stomach, hip, adrenal gland and lymph nodes.
Mum Jemma, 28, who has had a tattoo in honour of her “hero”, said: “He had always been such a lovely, boisterous, generally happy little boy.
“Everyone calls him smiler, he’s just so loveable. He had been on antibiotics for tonsillitis and on the last day of the tablets he had to pull himself up the stairs because he couldn’t walk.”
Though doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital were unable to say what was causing his symptoms, which included tiredness and a high temperature, specialists at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) diagnosed neuroblastoma, a cancer which forms from nerve tissue.
Just weeks after diagnosis, the tot is now undergoing tri-weekly trips to the hospital as well as an intense form of chemotherapy for 70 days in the hope that it will shrink the tumour before it is surgically removed.
Mum-of-four Jemma added: “Doctors have said that’s it’s been really fast spreading.
“Kian had always been fit and well but something has triggered this.
“He’s responded really well to treatment so far and has taken it all in his stride. It tears your world apart to see your baby going through this but Kian’s accepted it.
“He’s coped better than we could ever have expected. The only thing was when we had to shave his hair off. He was born with mops of hair and was quite depressed when we shaved it off. But as long as he has his Fireman Sam cap he’s happy.”
Jemma and husband Neil, 37, can’t praise highly enough the staff and patients at Ward 4 at the RVI.
“When we first walked on to the ward we were crushed,” he said. “But seeing those kids inspires you. We couldn’t ask for better care than what he is receiving.”
The Castletown community has also rallied round to show their support for the family.
A series of charity fund-raisers are taking place to raise money in Kian’s name.
His nursery, Buttercups at the Bunny Hill Centre, is doing a sponsored event and Andrea Robson at The Village Hair Salon is arranging a fancy dress sponsored walk on Saturday.
And The Supa, the former Castletown Snooker Club, is arranging a Lady Gaga tribute night on May 17 in the hope of raising enough funds so that Kian can eventually go to DisneyLand Paris with his family.
Jemma, who is also mum to Keith Ramshaw, 13, Keeley Armstrong, 10, and Kyle Armstrong, seven, said: “I’ve lived my whole life in Castletown and the way the community has responded means so much to us.
“Everyone has been amazing. All we ever wanted was a little prayer for him but they’ve taken it upon themselves to do more. We are so grateful.”
•For more details on the sponsored walk visit The Village Hair Salon on Ethel Terrace which is selling wristbands for the cause. Or for more on the charity night, tel. 549 0037.