LITTLE Alex Noble sees going to hospital as part of everyday life.
But while the two-year-old may take the regular trips in his stride, his family are only too aware of the bleak outlook unless they succeed in securing pioneering treatment abroad.
Alex has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer which only affects 100 youngsters in the UK every year.
He responded well to a punishing schedule of treatment, but after a relapse in June his family were forced to look elsewhere for care as hospitals in the UK felt they could do nothing more to treat the illness.
Now his parents Chris and Sarah, from Blackford, have launched a fundraising appeal to raise £150,000 to fund the next stage of treatment, which could either be in Germany or the US.
Alex was diagnosed last June, aged 20 months, as the family were still celebrating the birth of his younger brother Luke.
Mr Noble, 35, a solicitor, said: “He was a perfectly normal child, and he had a bump on his head.
“That’s not uncommon for kids of that age who do a lot of standing up, turning round and bumping into things. But it didn’t go away, and we also noticed he had developed a squint.”
As a precaution, he was taken for an MRI scan, at which point the seriousness of his condition – which the family now know to be neuroblastoma – became evident.
Said Mr Noble: “I can’t put into words how we felt. It showed a tumour on his skull, which was pushing against his eye causing it to squint, and three other tumour sites. He was effectively riddled with cancer.”
Intensive treatment began days after, and ever since it has dominated the lives of the whole family.
Treatment seemed to be going well, but the family had been told it was a “one chance” cancer and that if their son relapsed, there would be little they could do to help.
In June, despite him seeming fit and healthy, that news arrived.
“It’s impossible to describe how that felt, and to an extent we still don’t know if we have days, weeks, months or years left with him.”
Because the relapse has occurred, the treatment he is currently receiving is just beating down the cancer rather than attempting to cure it.
But the family will travel to London later this month for further tests.
Once those results are in, they will know if they can qualify for a foreign trial, and need the cash in place given the time constraints on it.
“We’re just trying to do as many fun things with him as possible,” added Mr Noble. “The beauty about him being so young is he doesn’t have the same psychological baggage as we do.
“It’s something we find terrible as parents, but for him it’s just a part of life.”