Brave LION!

Chat - - True-Life | Mum's Instinct -

That Christ­mas, ev­ery­thing felt like a mir­a­cle

Des­per­ate for Zayn to have the po­ten­tially life-sav­ing treat­ment, An­war and I knew we would have to find the money for pri­vate treat­ment. It was a lot of money. But we were will­ing to do any­thing to save our boy.

Our fam­i­lies kindly loaned us some money just to hold the date of the surgery, while we launched a fundrais­ing ap­peal for the bulk of the cost.

We opened a crowd­fund­ing page and posted Zayn’s story on so­cial me­dia.

In­cred­i­bly, within just a week, we’d raised £53,000 to pay for the treat­ment.

I’m not ashamed to ad­mit I sobbed, over­whelmed by the gen­eros­ity of the pub­lic.

We trav­elled to Am­s­ter­dam, where Zayn had surgery to re­move the tu­mour on 20 Novem­ber 2017.

Dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, sur­geons in­serted wires into his jaw.

These were used to de­liver ra­dio­ther­apy di­rectly into the tu­mour site ev­ery two hours for three days.

To avoid in­fec­tion, he had to stay in iso­la­tion the en­tire time, while we waited out­side.

Al­though doc­tors and nurses were car­ing for him, it was ag­o­nis­ing hear­ing him cry.

Not be­ing able to com­fort him...

Af­ter­wards, Zayn had re­con­struc­tive surgery us­ing mus­cle from his back.

He was left with scars snaking up his back and around his jaw.

But he soon bounced back and was tod­dling around the ward with Razak, smi­ley as al­ways.

‘Our brave lit­tle lion,’ I beamed, hold­ing him close.

We fi­nally re­turned home on 20 De­cem­ber 2017, just in time for Christ­mas.

It felt ex­tra spe­cial to do the sim­plest things.

Cook­ing Christ­mas din­ner, dec­o­rat­ing the tree. Ev­ery­thing felt like a mir­a­cle.

The boys could feel how spe­cial it was, too. It was al­most like the house was filled with magic.

In the New Year, Zayn was closely mon­i­tored and started six months of low-dose chemo­ther­apy as a pre­cau­tion.

His scars soon healed and he was full of en­ergy.

And in May this year, a scan brought won­der­ful news.

‘We can’t find a trace of cancer in Zayn’s body,’ the doc­tor told us. We wept with joy. Sadly, Zayn’s hear­ing was im­paired be­cause he’d had his right ear canal re­moved dur­ing surgery, af­ter the tu­mour had grown into it.

But he never let it hold him back.

Ev­ery morn­ing, he’d wake up grin­ning, happy to be at home in­stead of hos­pi­tal!

When he started nurs­ery with Razak, they rushed in hap­pily, side by side.

‘It looks like you’ve en­joyed your­self,’ I laughed when I col­lected him.

Look­ing at him now, with a mop of hair and chubby cheeks, you would never think he’d been so ill. He’s a ball of en­ergy and mis­chief, loves climb­ing frames and play­ing foot­ball. This year, we went on our first fam­ily hol­i­day – to Ali­cante, Spain – and Zayn loved splash­ing in the pool. A world away from the poorly lit­tle baby in hos­pi­tal with the huge tu­mour on his face. We want his story to be a com­fort to fam­i­lies whose chil­dren have cancer. Things can and do get bet­ter. So, never give up hope.

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