THE family of a terminally-ill seven-year-old boy are in Mexico where he is receiving a new form of treatment in the hope it will prolong his life.
Jennifer Ure Stewart and her husband Mark travelled to the Monterrey Vale Oriente hospital with their three young boys, including eldest child Luke, who is suffering from a rare aggressive brain tumour.
The family, from Tranent, are hoping a course of Intra-Arterial (IA) chemotherapy treatment will halt the cancer from growing and give them more time with Luke and his two brothers Lewis, aged five and 18-month-old Lochlin.
A “Help Luke” page on JustGiving set up just four months ago has now raised an incredible £163,000 thanks to the efforts of the local community in East Lothian.
The Stewarts have been in Mexico since May 2 and will be staying for an initial seven weeks while Luke receives treatment.
The brave youngster has already completed the first stage of his treatment, which involved an initial MRI scan, to let doctors determine the type and quantity of drugs to administer directly into the tumour.
Then he underwent a procedure where they inserted the drugs through the basilar and femolar artery which go directly into the brain stem.
Jennifer, who is originally from Liberton and works as a business analyst for RBS, said she hopes the treatment will give the family more time together.
She said: “The simple answer is we just don’t know. We hope and pray this could be the cure and the treatment will continue to kill those cancer cells.
“But any extra time be it days, weeks, months or years with Luke means this is working.
“Due to the treatment being so new, the medical professionals don’t have enough statistics to say how long it gives a child or if it’s curable.”
Jennifer said her “heart broke” when she was lying in the hospital bed alongside Luke and he asked her: “Mummy, when you go to heaven do you just watch everyone else playing below and you can’t join in”, before adding: “Mummy, I don’t want to go to heaven without you, daddy, Lewis and Lochlin”.
The results of the MRI scan showed that the tumour remained in Luke’s brain stem but had not spread. He is due to receive a second MRI scan this Friday with a further procedure straight after to administer more drugs to the tumour.
Luke was diagnosed with the Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG) tumour in January – according to the Brain Tumour Charity only around 10 per cent of children with DIPG survive longer than two years after diagnosis. The initial plan was for him to have a course of groundbreaking treatment in London but doctors discovered a cyst growing inside the tumour which put paid to that, leaving them no other option but to pursue IA treatment in Mexico.
Jennifer added: “We feel truly lucky to be here in Mexico and believe 100 per cent in this treatment. The doctors that carry out the procedure are wonderful, they are kind and genuinely care.”