Three cheers for Theo!
Doctors said he’d never walk but then the community began to rally
As I heard my husband Liam, 26, cheer in the living room,
I laughed from the kitchen. ‘Goal!’ he cried happily as I waddled in with two mugs of tea.
‘You shouldn’t be doing that,’ he frowned, sitting me down.
It was July 2015 and I was 28 weeks pregnant.
Following a bleed, I’d recently spent nine days in Liverpool Women’s Hospital. And, now, the doctors had confined me to bed rest. ‘I’m OK,’ I sighed. But I was soon distracted by the Arsenal game, our favourite football team.
We loved watching our local rugby team the Warrington Wolves play, too.
Liam and I both come from sporty families.
So when our daughter Isla was born in August 2012, we took her swimming and to dance classes early on.
And now I was expecting our first son.
‘He’s going to be an Arsenal supporter,’ grinned Liam proudly.
‘Of course,’ I agreed. Only, just a week later, during a routine check-up, doctors discovered I was in early labour.
Our son Theo was born 11 weeks early.
Weighing just 2lb 12oz, our boy was taken straight to Intensive Care. Despite his size, though, he thrived.
And after nine weeks, we were allowed to take Theo home.
Doctors warned it’d take him a while to catch up with other babies his age. But we were just so grateful to have our lovely lad.
He looked so much like Isla, then 2, who adored her baby brother.
And he got stronger every day.
At 8 months old, he’d already started staring at the rugby or football on TV.
‘Like father, like son,’ I chuckled.
Only, at playgroup he had me worried.
Theo just lay on his tummy, watching the other babies wriggle around the floor.
Kicking his legs, he was desperate to push himself along. But he just couldn’t do it.
‘He’s still not crawling,’ I told our doctor when he was 10 months old. Theo had tests.
Then when he turned 1, in July 2016, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in his lower limbs.
The lifelong condition affects muscle strength and coordination.
‘He won’t be able to walk unaided,’ explained the specialist.
Our sweet, smiley boy would never run around like other little lads.
Or play football with his dad, ride a bike.
The specialist said the condition may have been caused by damage to the brain before or during birth.
I couldn’t help but blame myself.
Theo was referred to
He was soon zooming around – a star player
a specialist at Alder
Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
He started having physiotherapy to get his muscles working.
He even had Botox injections in his legs to help them relax. ‘Sorry, lad,’ I cringed as the nurse stuck needles into his little thigh. Theo was such a brave boy. And every day he proved doctors wrong. At 14 months, he pulled himself up using a table leg.
A few months later, he was given a special walker with four wheels. There was no stopping him from then on.
‘Theo, be careful!’ I cried as he scooted around, kicking his rugby ball.
In truth, I didn’t mind the chaos.
It was worth it to see him mobile.
In November 2017, we drove Theo, 2, to a Cerebral Palsy United FC match in Manchester.
It was a special charity football club for children and adults just like Theo.
‘He’s like me, Mummy!’ he cried, pointing to a little boy out on the pitch using a walker.
Theo was soon out on the field, too, zooming around – a star player.
Then, in July 2018, we got some amazing news.
Theo’s specialist told us there was a special operation that could help Theo walk.
It involved cutting nerves in his back to make his muscles less stiff.
‘It has a very high success rate,’ said the specialist. Only...
The operation cost £21,000.
It wasn’t available on the NHS.
It’d be a further £40,000 for Theo’s aftercare, including physio and rehabilitation equipment as well. My heart sank. ‘It may as well be a million pounds,’ I sighed.
‘We’ll find that money,’ Liam said later, as we watched Theo wheel himself around the garden, playing football with Isla.
Whatever it takes.
We told all our loved ones that we wanted to start fund-raising.
Within weeks, our friends, neighbours, local companies and even complete strangers had raised £3,650.
And through sponsored walks, runs, sports days and raffles, the figure kept rising.
And then, in January, the NHS announced a change in policy.
‘They’re going to fund Theo’s operation!’ I cried to Liam, clutching the letter in my hand. ‘Amazing!’ Liam said. It meant with just the aftercare fees to worry about, we were already almost halfway there.
As the months went on, everyone clubbed together for Theo. Businesses generously donated products and services for a charity auction, which raised more than £1,000.
So many neighbours and members of our local community donated prizes for raffles and helped organise events.
Including Theo’s favourite player from the Warrington Wolves!
‘I’m going to be a rugby player when I grow up,’ Theo grinned.
‘You can,’ I smiled.
Me and Liam have been totally overwhelmed with people’s generosity.
Now, we’ve almost reached our £40,000 target. Theo’s op is soon. He’ll spend four weeks in hospital, then it’ll take months of rehab to get him on his feet.
Not that it fazes Theo, 4. ‘My legs are poorly but they’ll be better soon,’ he tells friends.
Our sports-mad lad is determined to be like any other little boy.
To me, he’ll always be a little champ.
For updates on Theo, or to donate, visit justgiving.com/ crowdfunding/ jane-cann
Our sportsmad lad
Me with Theo, Isla and Liam
Theo’s like any cheeky littl’un
He shoots, he scores!