Brave cancer boy from Aylsham enjoys trip to Kennedy Space Centre in Florida
A schoolboy who bravely battled his way through treatment for a rare mouth cancer was given a boost by a visit to an American space centre.
Ten-year-old Sam Tomlinson discovered he had a slow growing tumour after a routine check up at the dentist.
It resulted in a four hour operation and six weeks of gruelling radiotherapy to remove it.
The Aylsham lad's name was put forward to the Starlight Children's Foundation charity which grants wishes to youngsters with serious and terminal illnesses.
Space fan Sam's wish was to visit the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, which he has now done with his parents Mark and Sarah from Proudfoot Way in Aylsham.
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Mr Tomlinson said: 'It was a huge boost after a fairly grotty time for Sam - though he dealt with it incredibly well.'
The tumour was spotted by a dentist just before Christmas 2009 and saw the youngster, then just eight, sent to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge for specialist treatment for his adenoid cystic carcinoma - a form of cancer in the saliva glands in the roof of his mouth which was previously unheard of in children in the UK
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'The team there said there were only a couple of recorded cases in the world, but they were marvellous. Sam had a four-hour operation to remove the growth and is fitted with a special plate blanking off the hole, which has to be updated regularly as he grows,' said Mr Tomlinson, who runs an aircraft loading business for Nairobi airport.
'Then he had six weeks of daily radiotherapy to get rid of any remnants. It made it extremely difficult for Sam to eat and drink. He was very tired but he stood up to it well. But all the children in these hospitals just seem to get on with dealing with horrible, horrible problems,' he added.
Mum Sarah, a teaching assistant at Aylsham's John of Gaunt pre-school, said: 'He did this all with a smile on his face and the way he has coped has been a source of inspiration to us.'
Sam. who is now at Taverham Hall prep school, was referred to Starlight by the CLIC Sergeant cancer charity, and headed out to Florida in spring - combining it with trips to Universal Studios and swimming with dophhins at Discovery Cove.
But it was the space centre which was the highlight - especially lunching with an astronaut and riding in a shuttle simulator which Sam said was 'like really being in space.'
?To refer a brave child like Sam or to make a donation, visit www.starlight.org.uk or call 020 7262 2881.