'Wonderful' Portobello boy, 8, who battled brain tumours for half his life dies with parents by his side

Fundraising helped him live a little longer.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 10:50 am

AN eight-year-old boy who battled brain tumours for almost half his life has passed away with his parents at his side.

Sol Barrie-Douglas from Portobello had good days and bad days as he fought the illness.

Read More

Read More
Heartbroken Edinburgh mum claims son died after ‘months of neglect’ by UK doctor...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sol died peacefully with his parents at his side

But his parents say he never complained - and they are thankful they had more time with their son than medical experts predicted.

His first tumour was discovered in February 2016. Sol had an operation and underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy and he was clear of disease for a while.

But the cancer returned and eventually doctors said all they could offer was palliative chemotherapy. Despite that, Sol’s parents, Ruth Barrie and William Douglas, were able to keep his tumour growth at a slow pace with various non-NHS funded treatments, diet and supplements. And Sol was able to return to school for almost a year.

Ruth said: “I think the doctors were amazed because with his type of tumour, when it relapses, the prognosis is a few months but Sol went for getting close to two years, hardly seeing the inside of a hospital.

“And the first year of that he just kept going from strength to strength - we really felt like we’d got our boy back and he was healthy and happy.

“He always handled everything with absolute grace - he was just a wonderful boy. He never complained, you hardly ever heard him cry.”

Fundraising Drive

In the summer, the family - Ruth, William, Sol and brother Theo - went to Majorca for ten days of therapy for Sol, which seemed to improve his condition. But they would have had to stay out there to continue it, so they paid £15,000 for the special oxygen machine that allows them to use the therapy at home.

They launched a new fundraising drive, led by Ruth’s sister Jessica, to pay for the equipment and other treatments and supplements.

William’s rock ‘n roll band Miracle Glass Company, which had already played an earlier fundraising gig, put on a second concert, LoveSol 2, which raised £7000.

And more than 650 people donated to a JustGiving page which Jessica organised.

But about a month ago the latest checks brought bad news. Ruth said: “We had another scan and it showed the tumour had really spread by that point.

“He just began to sleep more and more each day and we were very happy to be able to care for him here at home. He was at home right to the end.

After Sol’s death last Monday William posted on social media: “Sol took his last breath this morning, with me and Ruth at his side. He was very peaceful, and I’m grateful that we were able to be there for him right up until the end.”

Ruth said: “His dad and I were able to be with him when he passed away and it was such a peaceful death - it was very, very gentle.

“I feel a sense of peace at the moment because we spent so much good time with him, really knowing how precious that time was. He had lots of adventures.”

Ruth thanked all the people who had supported them over the years and the hundreds who had given money to pay for the treatments which helped keep Sol going for a little longer.

“The support from family friends and community is incredible,” she said.

“And all the donations were just amazing. I think that’s part of what makes the journey with Sol easier to bear because we constantly saw the goodness in other people, the love of other people, all the way through - so much support.”

Ruth and William are now planning Sol’s funeral. “We’re going to have a celebration of life here in Portobello.

“And we’re going to take him to Binning Memorial Wood, near Tyninghame in East Lothian, to lay him to rest there.

“It’s incredibly beautiful. That was Sol’s favourite place to go on holiday. He had lots of great holidays but he really loved Harvest Moon, a little holiday site down there - he said he wanted to stay there forever. It’s a beautiful wood full of silver birch trees and it’s absolutely flaming orange at the moment.”