Community unites to support brave Hethersett boy Finnbar, 5, who is fighting a brain tumour
- Credit: Archant
A community has united to support the family of a brave Hethersett schoolboy who is fighting a rare brain tumour.
Little Finnbar Cork, aged five, was diagnosed with the tumour after his parents - who are both medics - noticed that he suffered dizzy spells.
The Woodside Infant School pupil would fall off his bike when normally he was an able cyclist, and he his head would occasionally tilt to one side, but this was very subtle.
The tumour has advanced very quickly and doctors at Addenbrooke's, a specialist head injury hospital in Cambridge, feel they are unable to treat him further, and his family are now awaiting news from consultants at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
In the meantime Finnbar is being cared for at home by his father Tristan, 34, a paramedic, and his mum Claire, 32, who works as a nurse.
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Friends and family have launched a fundraising drive to do all they can to help, and more than £5,000 has been raised in just over a week.
Cash will help Finnbar's parents, who are both currently on compassionate leave, to be at his bedside, help with his current needs, and will provide an emergency fund in case he needs treatment abroad.
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Fundraising events organised so far include a charity football match, cake sales and a group of Norfolk police officers who will take on the Three Peaks Challenge.
Sharon Penska, 53, who is Finnbar's grandmother, said the support had been 'brilliant'.
'Claire and Tristan have been overwhelmed by the messages of support they've received,' she said. 'First we had to persuade them to let us raise funds, but since then it's just been amazing.
'Whatever happens he needs a lot of support and he needs 24/7 care.
'We want to make his life as happy and stable and easy as possible until they hopefully find a treatment to stop it from spreading.'
She added that family were warning other parents of the subtle symptoms of brain tumours, which can be difficult to notice - even to parents who are both medics.
'They spend all their life fighting to save other people and now they're trying to save their own child,' she said.
And they are calling for more medical research into childhood brain tumours and how to treat them.
Finnbar was his normal self at Christmas, but after scans at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and a subsequent referral to Addenbrooke's Hospital in January things have moved quickly.
He has already had an operation to relieve pressure on his brain, but a further operation to remove the tumour was not possible due to its diffcult presentation and location within the brain.
Doctors started an 18-month chemotherapy programme but this was stopped after 10 weeks, and the family are awaiting news from consultants.
'He was still smiling and talking fine, walking by holding onto things though a bit unsteady,' said Ms Penska. 'Then four weeks ago he started to deteriorate rapidly.
'There needs to be more research into the treatment of childhood brain tumours and parents need to be aware of the subtle symptoms such as dizzy spells, head tilting and a wide gait.
'At Christmas he was running round pretty much as normal, and you would never dream there was anything wrong.'
Eppie Dawson, 24, his aunt, said: 'He can still understand our communication to him and still tries to make a joke in his own way, but this is sometimes hard due to his current speech difficulties.'
She thanked everyone who had helped to support the family, adding: 'People have been amazing with the things they've been doing.'