June 20, 2008

Brave Bone Cancer Tot Callum Really is One in Five Million

By Gareth Rose

HE may look like any other happy toddler, but Callum Weir is one in five million.

The youngster became a rare victim of bone cancer at the age of just six months - a disease which more typically affects teenagers.

Now, after undergoing 18 months of chemotherapy, the two-year- old is well on the road to recovery at his Newington home, as his family reflect on just how lucky he has been.

His condition was only spotted when his mother Alison spotted him tossing and turning in his sleep.

She was worried he might have hurt his arm during the night, and took him to the Sick Kids Hospital, fearing nothing worse than a fracture. Instead, the doctors gave the family the devastating news that it was bone cancer.

The variation, Ewing's Sarcoma, typically affects teenagers when they go through growth spurts and the chance of it occurring in a six-month-old baby, like Callum was at the time, is about one in five million.

Mrs Weir said: "It is really rare in boys of Callum's age. I think there were only one in six cases in children under-ten last year, and most of those would be in older boys.

"The consultant told us Callum was the youngest patient with Ewing's Sarcoma she had ever treated."

As well as chemotherapy, Callum had part of his upper arm removed, and received a bone graft to replace it.

However, the ordeal has never been able to wipe the smile off his happy face as he bravely battled past every obstacle.

Mrs Weir, 31, a teacher, said: "Initially, he was on chemotherapy until the summer. Then he had a major operation in July to remove the bone in his upper arm.

"Then they gave him a bone graft - his arm was sticking out for months. Then he had to have more chemotherapy to make sure it had all gone.

"He is still monitored on a monthly basis and could face further complications. It might not grow at the same rate as the rest of his arm, it's not done and dusted by any means."

Both Callum's family and medics have been stunned by how well the youngster has coped with the operations, chemotherapy and infections that it has left him vulnerable to.

Mrs Weir, who also has a daughter Hannah, three, said: "He has been just great. He has got his hair back again now and just looks like a normal wee boy.

"His arm is still not quite right but he is doing well - he's such a smiler, such a sociable little boy. He was really good on the ward."

The family are also full of praise for staff at the Sick Kids who have helped Callum through his illness.

The Evening News successfully campaigned against the downgrading of the Sick Kids, as Scottish health chiefs considered centralising the highest level children's cancer and neurology services. AWARENESS KEY TO TACKLING CONDITION

CALLUM'S family have backed Bone Cancer Awareness Week, which starts tomorrow, and aims to improve knowledge and understanding of the disease among medics and members of the public.

Symptoms include pain and swelling around the affected area and problems with movement. Anyone with continuing bone pain, which lasts longer than a few weeks, should seek medical advice. Many conditions are not picked up quickly, although bone cancer can often be diagnosed with a simple X-ray.

Tim Eden, professor of teenage and young adult cancer, said: "The big emphasis must be on young people being aware that painful lumps ought to be investigated, and empowering them to make sure that the doctor takes it seriously and arranges an X-ray."

Originally published by Gareth Rose Health Reporter.

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.