No mat­ter what

Vic­to­ria Bayn­ham, 34, from Barry, Vale of Glam­or­gan, couldn’t be prouder of her coura­geous boy.

Pick Me Up! Special - - Real Life Gross -

Con­sid­er­ing how much my son had been through, it was tes­ta­ment to Alex that he was al­ways so happy. You couldn’t fail to smile when he looked at you with his big eyes in the morn­ing – just wait­ing for the next ad­ven­ture.

And boy, had it been a roller­coaster so far!

De­spite tests show­ing that there was only a one in 1,400 chance of Alex hav­ing Down’s Syn­drome, when he was born on 3 June, 2005, at Univer­sity Hospi­tal, Llan­dough, he had the con­di­tion.

My hus­band Gareth and I adored him from the mo­ment he came into the world – and so did his brother Ryan, now 11, and sis­ter Bethan, now five.

‘He’ll just need a lit­tle ex­tra help,’ I told them, but within days, he needed a great deal of help.

Alex’s lungs col­lapsed and he strug­gled to swal­low and breathe. He had to be tube-fed un­til he was strong enough.

For three months, we went back and forth to the hospi­tal un­til he was fi­nally al­lowed home.

But at nine months, he needed surgery to re­pair a hole in his heart.

Grow­ing up with his sib­lings, Alex was such a happy lit­tle boy.

Even though he was de­vel­op­ing slower than other chil­dren his age, he went to nurs­ery and eas­ily made friends.

He’s such a bless­ing to our fam­ily, I thought daily.

He taught us how to see the pos­i­tive in ev­ery­thing and to ac­cept all our dif­fer­ences. When Alex was five, he came home with a runny nose and I thought he just had a sim­ple cold.

But when he blew it, there was blood and he de­vel­oped chicken-pox­like spots on his chest.

I was wor­ried, so took him for a check-up.

When he was re­ferred for tests at the Univer­sity Hospi­tal of Wales, I grew more anx­ious.

Still, the di­ag­no­sis came as a huge shock to me.

‘I’m afraid it’s leukaemia,’ the con­sul­tant said.

I broke down. Hadn’t he been through enough al­ready?

There was no way I was ask­ing about his fu­ture prog­no­sis be­cause in my eyes, there was only go­ing to

Hadn’t he been through enough?

be one out­come.

Alex was go­ing to live.

Af­ter be­ing ad­mit­ted onto the Rain­bow Ward, he started chemo­ther­apy via a line, ev­ery day for three months.

We tried our best to ex­plain what was go­ing on, with­out fright­en­ing him.

‘This will make you bet­ter,’ I soothed, as he strug­gled to get used to it all.

The nurses did a fan­tas­tic job, but Gareth and I knew him best, so we worked out a rota that would mean one of us was al­ways with him, even when he slept.

And when he was awake, we spoilt him rot­ten!

We brought in his favourite DVDS and even got him Mcdon­ald’s at 3am when he asked for it.

Af­ter ev­ery­thing he’d been through, he de­served it.

Af­ter six long months, Alex was able to come home and fi­nally, in April 2012, he was in re­mis­sion.

It was fan­tas­tic news, and it was amaz­ing to see him go back to school with all his friends.

An­other bat­tle won, I thought, so proud of how Alex had coped.

So when Make a Wish of­fered us a three-day trip to Dis­ney­land Paris for Alex’s 10th birth­day, we jumped at the chance to give him some fun.

As we walked round the at­trac­tions, Alex was wide-eyed with won­der and I loved that we were mak­ing spe­cial mem­o­ries, away from the hospi­tal.

But as we headed back to the ho­tel, Alex started to blow his nose and when I checked his hands, my heart stopped. The spots had re­turned. ‘The can­cer is back,’ I stam­mered to Gareth. And the fun was over. Back home, a con­sul­tant con­firmed our worst fears.

But this time, I didn’t cry – I was fu­ri­ous. Why Alex again? It felt so un­fair. My brave boy started an in­ten­sive form of chemo­ther­apy, but it was too much for him. He got an in­fec­tion and his body started to shut down.

I was ter­ri­fied when he was trans­ferred to the high de­pen­dency unit and told that he needed to have an op­er­a­tion.

They needed to take his in­fected chemo line out as the in­fec­tion was trav­el­ling down to­wards his heart.

‘He’s ex­tremely poorly,’ the doc­tors warned. ‘He may not make it.’ We were told that we should all say our good­byes, in case he didn’t pull through. ‘No!’ I screamed. ‘I don’t want to.’ But I had no choice. ‘Come back to me,’ I whis­pered. Gareth and I spent the long­est night wait­ing for Alex to come back to the ward and when he did, I was tri­umphant.

If any­one could over­come the chal­lenges we were fac­ing, it was our Alex.

He was still in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion and on life sup­port.

His body was so weak and the

an­tibi­otics just weren’t fight­ing the in­fec­tion.

For three months, he fought on while the doc­tors said that his time was run­ning out.

‘I won’t switch off his life sup­port un­til he gives up,’ I vowed. And he never did. Fi­nally the an­tibi­otics took hold and Alex started to come round.

‘He’s com­ing back to us!’ I cried, squeez­ing his hand as I watched him move slowly.

Back on the Rain­bow Ward, Alex re­cov­ered enough to come home in Jan­uary 2016.

And the fol­low­ing year, our Alex was fi­nally in re­mis­sion for the sec­ond time.

To­day, Alex is 13, and you’d never know he had fought back from the brink so many times.

No mat­ter what is thrown at him, he fights back, and we’ll al­ways be by his side to cheer him on.

I still think about it all the time, and we have reg­u­lar check-ups, but Alex is too busy play­ing on his ipad, play­ing with his mates and eat­ing crisps to worry about all that!

He’s a typ­i­cal teenager, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve al­ways known that Alex is ex­tra spe­cial, but he con­tin­ues to prove it in the most heroic ways.

Alex was such a con­tented lad

Not hav­ing him was un­think­able

His sib­lings adore him

We’ll al­ways be by his side

We were told to say good­bye to our boy

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