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Ryan bidding to put his cancer battle behind him

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

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THE mammoth fundraising effort to help six-year-old Ryan Edwards in his battle against cancer is finally paying off.

In just six months almost half of the £300,000 target has already been raised, and during that time Ryan has gone into remission for a third time.

Now he faces the biggest battle of his life after being flown to Germany to begin the potentially life-saving pioneering treatment, not funded by the NHS.

Ryan, of Broadfields, Exeter, has been battling neuroblastoma, a rare cancer which affects only around 100 children a year, since the age of 22 months.

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His stage of the illness means that no other options are available in the UK that offer a cure so his parents Julie and Gareth started the Ryan Edwards Appeal.

Months later came the unexpected news that the charity Neuroblastoma Alliance UK would fund the treatment immediately instead of Ryan and his family having to wait until they had raised the money.

Earlier this month, two days after Ryan's sixth birthday, the family flew out to the University Children's Hospital in Tubingen, Germany, to start the treatment which will hopefully mean he has no more relapses.

The first phase of the treatment was 12 days of conditioning where Ryan received a combination of high-dose chemotherapy to destroy his existing bone marrow and immune system in preparation for a thaplo-identical stem cell transplant.

The stem cells were donated by his mother Julie, a process that took around six hours over two consecutive days. The stem cells were then processed in a laboratory and given to Ryan by IV infusion the next day in a matter of minutes.

Over the next few weeks the stem cells will graft in Ryan's body, building him a new immune system.

Julie revealed: "This is now the critical period for Ryan as until the new cells graft, his body has no means of fighting infection. He will remain in isolation until the new immune system is able to protect him.

"He is receiving, and will continue to receive, a multitude of drugs to help him cope with the side effects of the high dose chemotherapy and to try and reduce the chance of infection. Ryan's future is still very uncertain. "

The next phase of the treatment is a six-to-nine-month regime of immunotherapy, a treatment which will enhance his new immune system and aims to seek and destroy any remaining dormant cancer cells.

Julie, who is grateful for the excellent care he has received, explained: "Each month we will travel to Tubingen for the treatment and then return home. It is a big commitment for our family but we wouldn't do it if we didn't believe that this was the right thing to do for Ryan.

"Despite all he has been through he remains a happy, delightful, funny boy who captures the hearts of everyone he meets. We truly believe that he deserves the chance of a future.

"Without the intervention of Neuroblastoma Alliance UK, Ryan would not have been able to receive this potentially life saving treatment when he needed it.

"Timing is all important and children like Ryan can't wait so families like ours are forced to launch fundraising campaigns at a time in their life when the demands on them are already immense.

"The charity are not expecting us to repay the money, but if we don't where will the money come from for the next child like Ryan? Sadly there are more and more children like Ryan, children who in photos look well and healthy and are active, but have relapsed with no chance of a cure in the UK."

To make a donation to the Ryan Edwards Appeal or find out about forthcoming events visit www.ryansappealpage.blogspot.co.uk, email ryansappealpage@hotmail.co.uk or call 07830 326756. To donate by a mobile phone text RYAN77 followed by £1 £2 £3 £4 £5 or £10 to 70070.

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