Marvellous Max gets award for courageous cancer battle

PUBLISHED: 11:11 07 January 2011

Jodie, Daniel, Max and India

Jodie, Daniel, Max and India

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A THREE-YEAR-OLD boy from Saffron Walden who was on the cancer ward at Addenbrookes while his mum gave birth to his little sister in the same hospital has had his courage recognised by a national charity.

Max Rowlandson has received a special star-shaped chrome trophy from Cancer Research UK after continuing to shine despite his ordeal.

The family enjoyed a hospital-free Christmas as Max enjoyed a brief respite from his three-year ongoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

The annual Cancer Research UK Little Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx, acknowledge the unique challenges faced by youngsters who encounter cancer.

Max’s grandma, Ann Rowlandson, nominated Max for the award. In addition to his star trophy he received a £50 TK Maxx gift card and certificate signed by celebrities including chart-toppers Rihanna, Leona Lewis and the Jonas Brothers, as well as Manchester United and Arsenal stars Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas and Formula 1 ace Jenson Button.

Max’s little sister, India (three months) also received a special certificate in recognition of the important role she plays in his life.

His mum, Jodie Rowlandson, first noticed something was wrong with Max when he began to limp. Doctors told her it was ‘growing pains’, but the limp became worse and Max began to have fevers. Eventually she phoned NHS Direct who told her to take Max to hospital.

Jodie and her husband, Daniel, took Max to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge where he was originally diagnosed with irritable hip syndrome.

It was only when staff noticed his blood count was abnormal that alarm bells started to ring.

“Max’s cancer was caught so early that it hadn’t even shown up in the usual blood tests. It was only the abnormal blood count that made anyone question the diagnosis,” said Jodie.

“They said they wanted to do a bone marrow aspirate – and that was when we got the news that Max had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Daniel had prepared himself for the worst, but I had convinced myself everything was going to be okay, so it was a real shock.

“Max began his chemotherapy treatment the very same day. It is a three-year long course of treatment, but we are now six months in and over the worst. Max has just finished an intensive block of treatment so we were really hopeful that we will have a hospital-free Christmas.”

Jodie was five months pregnant at the time of Max’s diagnosis and working as a graphic designer at Nigel Quiney Publications in Saffron Walden. Her employer allowed her to take compassionate leave until her maternity leave started and she is hoping to return to work next year.

Max’s treatment has made him prone to repeated infections and he has spent much of the year in and out of hospital, but has regained his cheeky smile and keeps the nurses entertained by charging up and down the ward with his drip trolley.

“Probably the most difficult time was when I was in hospital giving birth to India,” said Jodie.

“Max and Daniel came into visit and Max immediately picked up an infection.

“We had this bizarre scenario where he was on the cancer ward and I was on the maternity ward and we just shuffled between them!”

Although Max’s illness was very disruptive to family life, Daniel has managed to keep working as an engineer manager for Allianz throughout his son’s treatment.

“It has been a very difficult time for us all, but we are lucky Max’s leukaemia was caught so early and the doctors are very pleased with his response to the treatment,” added Jodie. “Max has celebrated his third birthday (on December 17) and it is so good to have him back to his old self.”

In the UK around 1500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year and leukaemia is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children.

However, there is some good news. In the late 1960s, less than three out of 10 children survived beyond five years. Today, that figure is almost eight out of 10.

Thousands more people are alive today thanks to research into children’s cancer undertaken by Cancer Research UK scientists, doctors and nurses.

For more information about Little Star visit cancerresearchuk.org/littlestar

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