BOUNCING up and down in his space-themed bedroom, Oliver Collins breaks into a cheeky smile that says “Mummy and I are so happy” – and it’s thanks to YOU.
The brave three-year-old, who is battling a brain tumour, has just moved into a new home with mum Georgina, 28, after they had been placed in a rat-infested building while he was having chemotherapy.
Oliver Collins has a brand new bedroom thanks to The Sun on Sunday’s campaign[/caption]
Georgina with her son Oliver, who has been receiving treatment for cancer, have just moved into the new flat in Richmond[/caption]
For 23 months, Georgina, who gave up work as a maths teacher to care for Oliver, lived in fear for her son.
His immune system has been compromised by the gruelling treatment, meaning germs from the dirty rodents at the property, in Whitton, in the borough of Richmond, South West London, could have killed him.
She would cry herself to sleep and was even prescribed blood pressure tablets due to being sick with worry.
When we told our readers of their plight last month, they sent in a postbag of letters, along with dozens of emails, spurring us on to campaign for them to be moved.
Great Ormond Street hospital in London, where Oliver is being treated, also said “urgent and suitable housing” was needed.
Charity Shelter, Housing Minister Esther McVey, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Tory MP William Wragg also supported our call for something to be done.
Speaking out as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, charity Children With Cancer UK has welcomed the news that the pair have been moved, stressing that families need safe, welcoming homes as they face the trauma of a child living with cancer.
Last night Georgina thanked Sun on Sunday readers for the key role you played in getting them what she describes as, “Our beautiful sanctuary”.
Their new two-bedroom flat, also in Richmond-upon-Thames, South West London, even has a garden where Oliver can play football.
‘OUR NIGHTMARE IS OVER’
The youngster, who has weekly chemotherapy and has a medical port for intravenously giving medication and taking blood, adds: “I didn’t like the other house due to the rats. They made Mummy sad and I was scared of them.
“I like playing in the garden with Mummy now. My favourite is playing football.”
Georgina says: “I’m overwhelmed at the support from The Sun on Sunday’s readers. They have changed our lives and I just want to thank every one of them.
“This is going to make the world of difference to us.
“We haven’t actually had what I’d class as a ‘home’ for so long. To have such a gorgeous and incredible one now is just overwhelming.
“With Oliver’s chemotherapy and being in the place we were, we were just existing, not living. There was a time when things were so bad at my old place I didn’t even want to get up.
“But thanks to The Sun on Sunday’s campaign, our nightmare is finally over.
“This is a fresh start. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter of our lives and making lovely memories here.”
As Oliver ran round the rooms of their new home last week, all he could say was “Wow!” between squeals of excitement. Georgina says: “Oliver’s favourite room is his new bedroom, and particularly his astronaut bedside light.
“Even as I turned our key in the door of our beautiful new home for the first time last week, it was as if a weight has been taken off my shoulders.
“For 23 months I’ve often cried myself to sleep. I was so scared of the germs from the rats, as Oliver’s immune system has been stripped by chemo.
“I used to dream of a home with a garden and somewhere safe for Oliver to play.
“Now we have it, there’s no words to express how grateful I am. I have to pinch myself watching Oliver score goals in our new garden.
“Now he can watch Peppa Pig on TV without me worrying that there may be rat droppings somewhere. He couldn’t play outside before because rats would scuttle out from the bins and there were even droppings in our home.
‘BRAVE LITTLE BOY’
“He’s such a brave little boy. After all he’s been through I’m so happy to see him playing and giggling at a place we can finally call home.
“On the first night it was so wonderful to tuck him into bed. He lay there cuddling one of his favourite toys Olly The Brave, a stuffed lion, and I read him the book: Olly The Brave And The Wigglys. Even as he drifted off to sleep he had a smile on his face.”
Oliver was diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma tumour after suffering a seizure followed by extreme thirst in March 2017.
It causes pressure on his brain, meaning he suffers symptoms including sickness, lethargy and irritability as well as disturbed sleep.
Mum Georgina says she is overwhelmed by the support her and her son have received[/caption]
Georgina also has a beautiful new room thanks to Sun on Sunday readers[/caption]
The pair can enjoy a game of football in the garden without worrying about nearby rats[/caption]
He had surgery on March 5 this year where a needle was inserted into his brain using a robot in order to biopsy the growth, which is the size of an eyeball.
Because of its position it cannot be operated on but he will continue to be treated and have scans until he stops growing, which will also lead the tumour to “sleep”. Georgina says: “I don’t think I will ever get over the day doctors broke the news that Oliver has a brain tumour.
“The team at Great Ormond Street have been incredible but no parent wants to hear that. I gave up work as I want to be there for my son.
“It’s been tough, and you’d give anything to take this away from your child.
“While Oliver’s tumour cannot be operated on, doctors believe he will live with it but we need to keep it under control until he is fully grown. That is why he is having chemotherapy.
“Having a child with cancer is a rollercoaster and when your home isn’t your sanctuary it’s so much harder.
“One of the low points was being told I was number 700 on the housing list when I asked to be moved from the original house. But once The Sun on Sunday became involved, within days, the council told us we would have our new home.
‘TUMOUR IS SHRINKING’
“Things are now turning for the better. Just a day after we moved in, we had the results of his latest scan, which show for the first time his tumour is shrinking.
“After Oliver was diagnosed we had eight months of waiting, then for the first six months of chemotherapy it grew. It was stable for nine months but now, for the first time, we are moving in the right direction.
“So while Oliver’s future is still uncertain, we had two pieces of great news in 48 hours.”
Doctors plan to continue Oliver’s chemo until next summer, then he will be monitored every three months. His next scan will be after Christmas.
Georgina says: “Before, I had so many worries. It was affecting my health to the point I had to wear a blood pressure monitor. I’m now taking medication.
“Finally I can now just focus on Oliver. That’s incredible. Our future is looking brighter.”
Cllr Gareth Roberts, leader of Richmond Council, says: “Ensuring residents’ housing needs are met is a priority for Richmond Council. I am pleased we were able to provide more suitable accommodation for this family. I hope Oliver’s health improves.”
MOST READ IN UK NEWS
Children With Cancer UK’s acting CEO Mark Brider, adds: “Every day, 12 families in the UK receive the devastating news that their child has cancer.
“The following years are filled with gruelling treatments. During this time it’s vital families have their own sanctuary.
“We know the burden on families can be huge, that’s why Children With Cancer UK fund grants and host special days out.”
- To find out more about Children With Cancer UK, and support for families affected by childhood cancer, visit childrenwithcancer.org.uk.
- GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]