A mum is appealing for help to make her six-year-old boy’s Disney World dream come true after his “constipation” turned out to be a rare form of liver cancer.
He has just a 50/50 chance of beating it.
Tommy Webster, of Banstead, Surrey, was diagnosed with stage four hepatoblastoma – a cancer of the liver that occurs in children – last month, after weeks of suffering tummy ache which his heartbroken mum, Kirstie, 32, was repeatedly told was due to constipation.
However, a CT scan and biopsy revealed Tommy – who now faces months of gruelling chemotherapy – had aggressive stage four cancer, after detecting a tumour on his liver that had spread to his lungs.
Kirstie, who has two other children, Lexie, seven, and Teddy, two, has now launched a GoFundMe page raising money to take Tommy to meet his Disney heroes in Florida, USA, saying: “You just never in a million years think something like this will happen to you.
“Seeing him so poorly, but not being able to help him is total hell.
“When he is well enough and we are able to travel, I want to take him to take him to Disney World, as he wants to meet The Hulk and Beauty and the Beast.”
She said: “I want to keep a smile on his face and give him the things he wants, as an incentive to keep going and to make his life that little bit easier.”
Tommy started having tummy ache in March, but doctors did not, at that point, suspect anything serious.
Kirstie, a full-time mum, said: “I kept taking him to doctors but they said it was constipation and he was prescribed laxatives.
“At one point, I ended up taking him to A&E, because he was in so much pain, but they examined him and were sure it was constipation, so he was given more laxatives.”
After about eight weeks of going back and forth to the doctors, at the beginning of May, she pushed for Tommy to have an ultrasound scan.
“He was curled up in pain and I could see he wasn’t right. I knew there was something seriously wrong with him,” she said.
Referred to nearby Epsom General Hospital for an ultrasound, he was then transferred to Sutton’s Royal Marsden Hospital for a CT scan.
“They had found something on his ultrasound, in his liver, and after the CT scan they said it looked like it was cancer,” she said.
“It was those words, ‘We’ve found something’. My world came to an end. It was the worst day of my life, but Tommy was there with me and I knew I had to be strong for him.
“We had to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, which was being performed at London’s King’s College Hospital,” said the single mum.
“The biopsy confirmed there was a cancerous tumour on his liver and it had spread to his lungs. It was stage four, an aggressive type of cancer. They said he has a 50 per cent chance of beating it.”
Diagnosed with hepatoblastoma which, according to the Royal Marsden, is a tumour of the liver occurring in youngsters and affects just 10 to 15 UK children a year, Tommy started chemotherapy two days later as an inpatient at the hospital.
But a couple of days after that he was rushed to intensive care at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south west London, because his oxygen levels had dropped so low.
Staying there for a week, he started to improve and was transferred back to the Royal Marsden to continue his chemotherapy treatment.
“Tommy knew he wasn’t well because of his tummy and he kept saying, ‘I can’t wait until I can run and play again,’” Kirstie said.
“He had never spent a night away from his siblings before. They are so close and that was one of the hardest things for them all. They couldn’t visit him in hospital because of Covid-19.”
After spending a few weeks in hospital with his mum by his side, while her sister Lily Webster, 18, looked after his siblings, Tommy was allowed home on June 18 – his sixth birthday.
Receiving chemotherapy through a line for the next seven to nine months, he is now staying at home and returning to the hospital for treatment as an outpatient.
“We had a lovely family birthday at home together and he loved spending time with Lexie and Teddy,” Kirstie said.
“They adore each other and this has affected them all. We had been having such a lovely lockdown together as a family. I know it’s been tough for a lot of people, but we were really enjoying spending time together and then this happened.
“It feels like my family has been torn apart.”
Kirstie continued: “We’ve got a long road ahead of us. He will have chemotherapy for months and then it’s possible he will need an operation and even a liver transplant.”
Kirstie, who shaved Tommy’s hair before the treatment started, rather than watching it fall out, said despite everything her brave boy is still smiling.
“He’s the happiest boy ever. He’s still trying to do everything he can. He’s even still riding his scooter around,” she said.
“The chemo did make him a little sick at the beginning, but it mainly makes him tired. He doesn’t have as much energy as he used to.
“I have always been on my own with the children, but this has been the hardest time and I’ve had to reach out to my family to help. I’ve had to rely on other people, but I have a strong community around me which I’m grateful for.
“I have every hope for my little boy. I can’t bear to look at it any other way. I’ll be beside him 100 per cent of the way and I know he has the strength in his body to overcome this terrible disease.”
She added: “He has adapted to life with his wiggly, the line for his chemotherapy, and a feeding tube.
“I keep thinking we have to let the storm pass before the rainbow will appear.”
Describing Tommy as her “special star boy”, Kirstie is massively grateful to people who have responded to her GoFundMe appeal, which has already raised £7,000 towards making his dreams a reality.
She said: “Tommy loves the children’s book character The Gruffalo, so one of the things I want to do is take him to Chessington World of Adventures where they have Gruffalo-themed hotel and then to Disneyland.”
After her own experience, Kirstie is also keen to encourage parents to trust their instincts if they think there is something wrong with their children.
“I knew that it was something more than constipation, so I really pushed for him to have a scan. Trust your mother’s instinct and keeping pushing,” she added.