‘If my time is up then my time is up, I’m not scared’ - Norfolk teenager at crucial point in cancer treatment - find out how you can show your support

PUBLISHED: 08:24 24 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:46 24 October 2013

Deryn Blackwell at his home in Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

Deryn Blackwell at his home in Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

A brave and inspirational teenager facing the most crucial point in his three year battle with cancer has told his mum “if my time is up then my time is up, I’m not scared”.

Deryn’s bucket list:

People I would like to meet:

Russell Howard

Jimmy Carr

The guys from Big Bang Theory

Richard Hammond

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

Experiences I would like to have:

To ride in a Lamborghini Quattroporte, Pagani Zonda, Enzo Ferrari, Aston Martin DB9, Aston Martin Vanquish, Bugatti Veyron supersport, Lamborghini Aventador, Audi R8 and some other really fast cars

A ride in a hot air balloon

Swim with turtles and dolphins

Go on an African Safari

To ride in a fighter jet

Be drawn as a Family Guy character

Watton’s Deryn Blackwell, 13, was diagnosed with leukaemia aged 10 and later developed Langerhans Cell Sarcoma as well – one of only six cases in the world.

Thought to be the only person to have both conditions at the same time, the Wayland Academy student has been in Bristol since February after undergoing and recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

Eight months after the procedure doctors told Deryn’s family his marrow had failed to graft and the potentially life-saving procedure has not worked.

Tomorrow is Deryn’s last chance – after four doses of chemotherapy to eradicate any donor bone marrow stem cells still left in him, the doctors will try the last bag of Deryn’s own cells.

A mother’s perspective:

Callie Blackwell, 34, gave up her job as a bouncer when Deryn became ill.

She says she is “constantly fighting fires” trying to make sure her family is comfortable and happy.

From transforming Deryn’s diet in to a holistic and healthy one, to putting Dylan in to school in Bristol so the family can be together – she is always reacting for the good of her children.

But she said finding out your oldest son could have not long left to live was not the tearful situation she imagined.

She said: “I just have to think ‘it is what it is’. No matter of crying is going to help.

“I have spoken to people who have lost their children and I remember how un-upset they were.

“I remember thinking ‘why are they not more upset’. But you accept it because it has happened, and that’s the way I am.”

The results could take up to three weeks to come back, but his mother, Callie, said if it fails then there are no other options left.

“If it doesn’t work then we probably have four weeks left with him, it could be a lot less,” she said.

“I have spoken to Deryn and he knows how serious it is. But he said he’s not scared. He said ‘if my time is up then my time is up’, he is willing to deal with that, and really that’s all I could ever wish for, that he’s not scared.”

His nine-year-old brother Dylan, dad Simon and mum Callie, both 34, had been commuting between Watton and Bristol weekly up to two months ago until they de-camped full-time to a house provided by a charity near to the Bristol hospital.

During his time in Bristol Deryn has undergone intensive total body radiotherapy and targeted radiotherapy to his throat, where tumours were found.

He spent long periods of time in total isolation because of his low immunity, akin to a newborn baby’s, has battled the graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a common complication after tissue transplants, all before finding the drugs given to combat a virus had killed his new bone marrow.

Despite all his treatment, Deryn, who is 14 on December 1, has remained a cheeky and cheerful character, charming hospital staff and keeping his thousands of Twitter followers amused,

But his mum said his morale has been slipping and Deryn says he wants to give up.

“In the last few days he has started to say he doesn’t want to be alive any more,” she said.

“I have always respected his choices but this time I said he could not think like that. I was firm and told him he will go ahead with chemotherapy. I am not letting him give up, and he knows that.”

The family had hoped to be back in Norfolk by now, with Deryn being treated as an out-patient at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

But despite complications and a prolonged time away from home, school and friends, Deryn says if his last chance treatment doesn’t work, then he does not want to return home to Watton.

“He said he doesn’t want to take death back to the family home,” his mum said.

“I told him not to worry about that and not to make decisions just to protect the family. But any child his age shouldn’t have to speak or think in that way.”

With his family, Deryn has drawn up a ‘bucket list’ of the special things he wants to do.

From rides in fast cars, to a safari, meeting celebrities and being drawn in to the comedy Family Guy, the list is to give Deryn mental strength to believe he will live to achieve.

Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood has promised him a special day out with his Aston Martin which the family hope will keep Deryn going and remind him that he has a lot to live for.

The family spend all their money on healthy food, fuel to travel to and from Bristol to Watton and bills and say it is hard to keep up with their new way of living, despite various donations.

If you can help the family or want to follow their daily progress visit or follow them on Twitter at and use the hastag #SmileforDeryn to show your support.


  • I wish I could be as brave as you Deryn, makes my problems pale in comparison. You're a fine lad, and my thoughts are with you all.

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • i have a son the same age, and i have never cried so much in all my life when i read this, good luck to you , fight as hard as you can lots of love xxxx

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • Good luck mate, you are so brave, my thoughts go with you and your family

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • Deryn. Don't give up honey. Don't let this beat you. You are a great kid and your mum is a legend. You will beat this- you will! Never say never...there is always HOPE and you are a little inspiration to all kids fighting Cancer.You have 2 of them up your sleeve and share one with Daniel...he is beating this so far and so can you! I am planning a trip to to England one day all the way from Australia to come and meet you all so you hang in there my man...I want to kiss those big cheeks of yours and give your mum the biggest hug - because you mean so much to me ...and we have never even met in person - but soon we will...and maybe one day when you are older you can come and see us down under and cuddle a koala. XXXOOO Thinking of you all!

    Report this comment

    Maria Monteverde

    Friday, October 25, 2013

  • I hope you are looking into Gerson's Therapy, and Hippocrates Health Institute as they are genuine alternatives doing some incredible work as is Dr Andrew Saul Orthomolecular High Dose Vitamin C. Best Wishes

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • Such a brave young man with a wonderfully supportive family - makes our worries seem worthless. Thoughts with them all. xxx

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • There are no words to express my total admiration for this brave young man and his family just saying good luck doesn't really cover it , but I know everyone is rooting for you all

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • There are no words to express my total admiration for this brave young man and his family just saying good luck doesn't really cover it , but I know everyone is rooting for you all

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • I would like to help Deryn. With Love, Light & Liberty Donna Africa aka The Norwich Zulu Warrior <3 <3

    Report this comment

    Donna Africa

    Thursday, October 24, 2013

  • You're a very brave lad Deryn. Hope the chemo goes well. Everything crossed for you!

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 24, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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