5-year-old boy with liver cancer apologises to mum before dying

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"Now, it’s time to fly, I am so, so proud of you. You fought this so hard,” Charlie's mum said.

Watching a loved one suffer from disease and pain is one of the most excruciating things a person can experience, and child battles with cancer experiences are soul-crushing. Here, we share a heart-wrenching story of a little boy and his fight with cancer. 

Child Battles With Cancer

For three years, Charlie Proctor fought against his rare cancer hard. “Now, it’s time to fly, I am so, so proud of you. You fought this so hard,” his mum, Amber Schofield says. | Photo: FACEBOOK/ Charlie’s Chapter

Child battles with cancer: Hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer

Hailing from Church, U.K, Charlie Proctor had been battling Hepatoblastoma, a rare cancer that starts in the liver, since February 2016, according to The Straits Times, as reported by British news outlets.

The 5-year-old had previously undergone a successful surgery at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the U.K, and his cancer went into remission.

But unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse and Charlie’s cancer returned. 

As such, his parents, Amber Schofield and Ben Proctor, took to Facebook in a last-ditch effort to raise £855,580 (S$1.53 million). This was so that they could pay for a life-saving treatment in the United States. 

They had reached almost half of the target amount, raising $611,600. Among the donors reportedly was US pop star Pink, who contributed £10,000.

However by then, they were presented with the fact that Charlie’s cancer had “become incurable” and “was too sick for treatment”. The treatment would have included a liver transplant, according to CTV news.

Child battles with cancer apologises to mum before he died

Weighing 9’11 lb at birth, Charlie was “the cuddliest baby ever!” according to his mummy Amber. But after the deadly cancer struck, Charlie’s condition deteriorated.

Child Battles With Cancer

“His AFP is that high now that the machine can no longer read them. His liver function are the same apart from his Bilirubin, which has doubled causing Charlie’s skin colour to be yellow,” according to Amber. | Photo: FACEBOOK/ Charlie’s Chapter

Along the way, Amber commented many times that her boy “no longer looks like Charlie.”

“He’s so thin, I can see and feel every bone in his tiny body, his sunken face, his rolling eyes.”

“I don’t know what to do anymore” are the main words the little boy said to Schofield. “He’s sad, he’s tired, he’s fed up and depressed.”

After nearly three years after being diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, Charlie took his final breath on Nov 9 2018, last Friday. And in the most heartbreaking way possible.

“Last night at 23:14 my best friend, my world, Charlie, took his final breath. He fell asleep peacefully cuddled in my arms with daddy’s arms wrapped around us,” said Amber.

Hours prior to his death, Amber shared a Facebook post quoting Charlie’s words.

“Mummy, I’m so sorry for this,” Charlie said in “the most quiet, panting voice”.

Apparently, he had been very agitated that day as he kept shifting positions. He had wanted to “lay down, sit up, lay in bed, then on the beanbag, then on the sofa, then back upstairs and so on…,” she said.  

Amber thanked Charlie for not only showing her what “love really means” but because he gave her the chance to be a mum. 

A “best friend” and “biggest inspiration,” is what Charlie will always be to her.  

5-year-old boy with liver cancer apologises to mum before dying

Child battles with cancer: “I miss just having a chat, a cuddle that doesn’t cause pain. I miss squeezing him and kissing him all over,” said Schofield. | Photo: FACEBOOK/ Charlie’s Chapter

Read Charlie’s and his family’s story in their Facebook post below:

Questions you may have if your child battles with cancer

Below are some suggestions as to what may go through your mind if your child has cancer. But always talk with your child’s health care team for a better understanding and how to deal with your child’s diagnosis.

1. Who should tell my child?

The child usually learns of their diagnosis from the doctor at the same time you learn of it. However, if you decide to reveal it to your child, you could get some advice from the doctor or nurse on how to answer his/her questions.

2. When should my child be told?

Let your child know of this as soon as possible as it could help build trust between the both of you. You could let them into the news bit by bit.

3. What should I tell my child?

What you share with your child depends on his age and how much they can understand. 

  • Provide clear, simple information, no matter their age. It has to make sense to them
  • Let them know what to expect using ideas and words that they understand
  • Explain to them how the treatment will make them feel and when something will hurt
  • Show them that strong medicine and treatments have helped other children

4. How much should I tell my child?

Give them an understanding of the basic facts about the illness, treatment and what to expect. You don’t have to dwell on the details or letting them know too much in advance. 

The key is to start with small amounts of information that they can understand. Try not to let their imagination run wild — especially when it comes to unanswered questions they might have. 

Answer their questions honestly and always communicate with each other. It can help greatly. Never be untruthful to them. 

5. How might my child react?

Some could worry, others get upset or become quiet, afraid, or defiant. It depends on each child. Some express their feelings in words, others in actions. Expect that some days will be rough, and others will be easier. Tell your child, and find ways to show her, that you will always be there for her.

6. What can I do to help my child cope?

Mums and dads, children take cues from their parents, whether or not you notice them. Being calm and hopeful help. Show them love. You can listen to them speak their mind, some feel better after talking. You can let them engage in activities such as drawing, writing, playing games or listening to music. 

Source: The Straits TimesNational Cancer Institute

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Ayu Idris

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