The family of a toddler battling a rare cancer have launched an appeal to raise £500,000 for life-saving treatment as he fights the disease for a third time.
Two-year-old Stanley Dalton was in remission from T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in February but his shocked parents have been told that it has returned.
The brave tot was diagnosed in March 2019 and spent more than 217 nights in hospital over the next 11 months as he battled it twice. He underwent two bone marrow transplants and was given a trial drug. In February, he was discharged from hospital when the cancer went into remission.
But his parents Georgia Brecken, 32, and Lee Dalton, 34, were given the heartbreaking news earlier this month that the cancer had returned – and nothing could be done to treat it.
The couple are now trying to raise £500,000 to take Stanley to Singapore for experimental CAR T-cell therapy, a form of immunotherapy that uses specially altered T cells to cure cancer.
Georgia said: “It would just mean everything to us if we could raise the money. I couldn’t imagine life without him. The alternative is that we don’t and he would die from this.
“We could take him home, do nothing and he will die anyway – or we can try to give him a chance with this treatment. There’s just no choice, you’d do anything for your children. For us as parents, we want to know we have tried every option available.”
Little Stanley, who lives in Carlisle, Cumbria, with his parents and older sister Delilah, four, was first diagnosed in 2019 aged just 16 months.
Hospital staff said he was so poorly that he might not survive the weekend, but after spending 10 days in intensive care, he was transferred back to the ward.
In August 2019 Stanley had a blood marrow transplant after chemotherapy had successfully targeted the cancerous cells. After being in remissions, his family were dealt the crushing news that it had returned in October.
Georgia, who took time off from her job as a mail sorter to stay by Stanley’s side in hospital, added: “The palliative care team were called in as they said there was nothing they could do.”
But Stanley’s consultant at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle was able to get trial drug Daratumumab on the basis of prolonging his life. Georgia said the drug helped to control the leukaemia and in February this year – 11 months after first being admitted to hospital – the toddler underwent a second bone marrow transplant and was allowed home.
But during a routine check-up on June 8, Georgia and a Lee, a facilities manager, were devastated to learn the cancer was back.
Georgia said: “We were told he had relapsed, it was just awful. We were devastated. He had been doing great until that point. He was doing so well and we were thinking positively.”
Stanley has been shielding during lockdown due to his cancer treatment.
She added: “We were back and forth to the hospital in Newcastle and it was really tough. He’d spent 217 nights in hospital out of less than a year. I can’t praise the staff highly enough, they were so great and couldn’t do enough.
“But it was tough for the family, Lee stayed at home with Delilah and she is only young herself so it was hard for her to understand what was happening.
“And when we came home, we were shielding because of the coronavirus pandemic so we couldn’t even enjoy any time as a family.”
Georgia hopes to take Stanley to Singapore for the pioneering cancer treatment. She believes £500,000 will only cover the cost of the treatment and the family have been told to expect to spend up to a year over there while Stanley recovers.
She added: “I have been in touch with a family who are returning this week and their son is cancer free seven months post-treatment. It just gives you hope and a belief that he has a chance.
“If you met Stanley you wouldn’t think he was poorly, he’s been so great. He’s just like a normal two year old and is always playing. If he was in pain and suffering I might think ‘ok, enough is enough’, but he’s so happy and smiley, it just gives me that extra motivation to do whatever I can to help him.”
To donate to Stanley’s fundraiser visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveourstan1