Dereham boy wins award for cancer bravery
PUBLISHED: 11:18 31 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:19 31 October 2013
Archant © 2013
A plucky nine-year-old who has battled a hereditary cancer since he was a newborn baby has been given a bravery award by a national children’s charity.
Fundraising for the Atkins family:
Family friends Liz Ewing and Heather Johnson have raised £5,000 for the family. Lewis’ parents say they will use the money for a family holiday to make up for lost time.
Tesco in Dereham raised more than £1,000 after a series of fundraising activities with staff and public.
Lewis Atkins, from Toftwood, has been recognised for his strength and courage by the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust after overcoming a rare eye and bone cancer.
Lewis was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma – cancer of the eye – when he was just four-and-a-half months old.
His mum Kelly, 36, was born with the same condition, and knew there would be a 50/50 chance she would pass it on to her children.
Despite Lewis being born with the life-threatening condition, his younger bother Luke, four, was not.
After six long months of chemotherapy and a year of intensive treatments, Lewis had his right eye removed aged just three, replacing it with an artificial one just like his mum’s.
But after being clear of cancer for five years, having lived a normal and carefree life, last Christmas Lewis was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer in his leg.
Dad Jonathan Atkins, 40, who works in Tesco in Dereham, took the phone call from the family doctor on Boxing Day last year telling them the cancer had returned.
“I will never forget the words the doctors said to me, that his x-ray was showing up an abnormality,” he said.
“I remember coming off the phone and just couldn’t believe it.
“But Lewis has been incredibly brave and strong. He’s sat down and just got on with it.”
After an operation to replace his femur bone and knee joint, as well as removing the eight-centimetre tumour, and more months of chemotherapy – Lewis is in the clear.
He said he felt “very lucky” and is now looking forward to playing football with his dad again.
His mum, who nominated Lewis for the award, said family life with Lewis’s younger brother Luke changed completely during treatment.
But she said Lewis has taken his life-time of treatment in his stride, having adapted to his artificial eye and use of crutches without any problems.
“Lewis had to give up football, Cub Scouts, his whole life has been nothing. None of us were at home very much because we were in various hospitals. It was non-stop,” she said.
“But his strength is amazing. All the way through this he’s been so happy and cheery. It’s amazing how he’s come through it. He’s always been very sociable and very much the clown, loving to be the centre of attention.”
The family praised the support of grandparents Pat and Russell Flint and Rodney and Sheila Atkins during Lewis’ treatment and say life is now about moving forward and getting Lewis back to full mobility after his leg operation. Having been away from Toftwood Junior school for 10 months, Lewis says he is excited to get back into the classroom and see his friends after half-term.
Joy Felgate, chief executive of the charity which gave the Lewis the award, said: “We are delighted to recognise the bravery and resilience Lewis has shown throughout all of his cancer treatment. He is an extremely deserving champion.”
Family friends Liz Ewing and Heather Johnson have raised £5,000 for the family, which they will use for a family holiday to make up for lost time.