Family of ‘happiest little chappy’ Jay, five, creating treat box amid youngster’s tumour fight
To his family, five-year-old Jay Goodman is the “happiest little chappy”.
The youngster is rarely without a smile, despite having been through months and months of chemotherapy and surgeries, starting little more than a year into his life.
He was just 16 months old when he was first diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour, leading to emergency surgery and more than a year of chemotherapy.
It went well - but the family, who live in Buxton, were told in March this year that his anapastic ependymoma grade 3 tumour had returned, and as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic, they have restarted a battle of their own.
His dad Mark Goodman said: “We’d had a warning sign because he’d started vomiting, so we had an inkling that something wasn’t right.”
With coronavirus, by that point, arriving quickly, Jay was given a pre-op assessment and quickly rushed in for surgery, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, which managed to remove all the tumour.
But the ordeal wasn’t over for the youngster.
“We basically did six weeks in hospital,” Mr Goodman said, “and Jay had five surgeries. He was very poorly.
“I saw the whole hospital change while we were stuck there.”
As the pandemic spread, Mr Goodman, who manages a free range egg farm in Hickling and runs Wildcraft Brewery with his business partner, and wife Karen were told they were not both able to stay, so Mrs Goodman returned home to care for their four other children.
“It wasn’t a fun time,” he said. “Every time there’s an operation it can change the make-up of the brain. When someone recovers after that, you have to find out whether that person is the same, and whether it changes anything in the brain function.”
Despite the challenge, he said Jay coped “unbelievably well”.
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“By the time we got to the end of the six weeks he was getting a bit tired of it,” he said, “but he took it on the chin.”
But they will this weekend be heading up to Manchester, so Jay can have seven weeks of treatment - lasting until July - to treat the tumour bed and hopefully stop secondaries.
The proton beam therapy will mean Jay will need to sedated under a general anaesthetic almost every day.
Mrs Goodman will stay at home, looking after siblings Joshua, 16, Reece, 13, George, 10, and Maddie, eight.
“I know he’s been with his dad so it helps, but it’s been horrible,” she said. “Whichever way round we’d had done it would have been hard - you are leaving someone behind.”
The couple said they’d been lucky to have support from friends, who had taken care of their shopping during the pandemic.
“We got the letter saying we have to shield but we have spent most of the in hospital anyway,” Mr Goodman said.
And ahead of Jay’s return from Manchester, they hope to give him something to look forward - a treat box filled with messages and gifts from loved ones.
“A lot of my friends were saying they wanted to do something,” Mrs Goodman said. “Coronavirus has really got in the way, as you can’t just go and hug people.
“He’s the happiest little chap going. He’s got a smile for everything, despite what’s he’s been through. If it was one of us going through it we would be ‘woe is me’.
“He calls the hospital his castle. When he gets back from the ordeal I will have a little treat for him.”
Family are collecting small gifts, photos and messages for the surprise. If you would like to send any donations, please post them to FAO Jay, Star Volunteers, PO Box 111, Norwich, NR28 8AX.
To keep up to date with the family, you can follow their Facebook page www.facebook.com/journeyforjay
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