MP calls for research into rare cancer after death of 6-year-old Benny Pitcher

Kevin and Julie Pitcher with their 'superhero' son Benny, who has lost his life to brain cancer. Pic

Kevin and Julie Pitcher with their 'superhero' son Benny, who has lost his life to brain cancer. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk MP has called for more research and funding into a rare childhood cancer which claimed the life of one of his constituents.

On July 12, Benny Pitcher died in the arms of his parents Kevin and Julie, at his home in East Runton. He was just six-years-old.

The youngster had been diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in March 2019, and has been given between nine to 12-months to live. DIPG is a rare form of childhood cancer, for which there is currently no cure.

Following diagnosis, patients are given an average of nine to 11 months to live. The disease has a survival rate of 0pc, a figure which has not changed in the last 50 years.

Following Benny's death, Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, has taken part in a parliamentary debate calling for more research into DIPG, and greater support for families who find their lives "turned upside down overnight".

A Norfolk MP has called on the government to introduce online VAT taxes to battle the economic and s

Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, has called for more research into DIPG - Credit: Archant

Speaking in Westminster Hall, on Monday, December 7, Mr Baker said he had never before witnessed grief in his community like he had following Benny's death. 

He said: "As we all know the Pitchers won't be the last family to suffer at the hands of the most cruellest of child cancers but it's stories like theirs and parliamentarians like us who must do absolutely everything we can to help and support and make sure as much finding into the science of research can be done."

He also called for more support for families and parents who became carers.

Mr and Mrs Pitcher said they welcomed the attention being drawn to DIPG and echoed Mr Baker's calls for more support and research.

Mrs Pitcher said: "It's quite a rare cancer, it's probably one of the only cancers where the prognosis hasn't changed in the last 50-years, that's a long time, that's a lot of children that have had to die.

"We couldn't imagine another family having to go through [what we've been through] and that's why we want this awareness raised, because hopefully with enough of us doing it, [awareness will increase] because until you've been a family with that diagnosis you don't know anything. It's really important to raise awareness."
 

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