Wheathampstead couple's bid to raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms in children, in memory of son George

Parents James and Michelle described George as a 'caring and cheeky' three-year-old.

Parents James and Michelle described George as a 'caring and cheeky' three-year-old.

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A couple from Wheathamptead are hoping to raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms in children after losing their “caring and cheeky” three-year-old son.

James and Michelle Rodd, of Beech Way lost their son George to a brain tumour in May.

From diagnosis George, who was three-and-a-half years old, survived less than six weeks. He leaves a twin brother, Austin, and elder brother, Oscar, six.

On Easter Sunday he was he was hunting eggs in his garden but the following day Mrs Rodd noticed George was wobbly on his legs. In the space of two weeks, he developed a head tilt and despite visits to the doctor and a CT scan, the tumour was not discovered. However, Mrs Rodd thought George could have a brain tumour after researching the symptoms online.

She booked him an eye appointment, which then prompted an MRI scan.

Transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, the MRI scan revealed medulloblastoma, an aggressive tumour the size of a golf ball in the back of George’s head.

Mrs Rodd, 36, said: “As a mum you know your own child and if you spot something unusual you should stick by your guns.”

George underwent surgery and his parents were told it was a rare and aggressive cancer and he would need chemotherapy, though the medical team did not not hold out much hope.

Days later the couple were informed the cancer was too advanced and had spread.

Mr and Mrs Rodd said: “We were told there was no option, no cure and no form of chemotherapy would beat the cancer. It was a losing battle.

“We brought him home with Keech Hospice on our doorstep.

“They helped with palliative care at home, which was incredible.

“They were with us two or three times a day to give George his medication.

“George died at home with his family around him and Keech nurses by our sides.

“It was the nicest, safest way you can feel in a very horrible situation.

“You knew that Keech were always there, doing all they could.

“We had 100 per cent support from Keech.”

Now they are encouraging others to support Keech.

They said: “We knew nothing of their facilities before.

“It is important for people to know they are the only children’s hospice in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

“It is important to support a local charity which is for children.

“Our children are the thing we hold most precious in life.”

The couple have now raised £17,130.92 in aid of Keech and £4,502.29 towards the Brain Tumour Charity (BTC) through a number of fundraising events, including bike rides and twilight walks.

A coffee morning at Harpenden’s White Horse pub on Thursday, October 24, saw 150 mothers and local bakers donate cakes to raise £1,600.

The couple’s close friend, Amy Martin, arranged 35,000 Head Smart cards, offering tumour advice, to be sent to Hertfordshire schools as well as Andy Days leaflet for Tick tock time machine.

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer in people under 40 years, 450 children are diagnosed with brain tumours each year and  Brain tumour research is chronically underfunded in the UK, receiving less than 2 per cent of all cancer research funding.

The couple said: “Suddenly, George went from being well, diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and then he died within six weeks.

“As parents we are increasingly concerned as to how people are not aware that brain tumours are so common in children and adults under 40. It is frightening.”

The couple have also decided to donate £10,000 to BTC.

Donations over £10,000 mean the couple will have a say in where the money is spent, which they will steer towards research in to high grade brain tumours. The couple added: “We feel lucky that for three and a half years George had a lovely life and had lots of different experiences to enjoy.

“George, he was very special. He was a loving, caring cheeky funny boy who absolutely adored his brothers.


“He had it all going on for him. He was just so easy to like and he got on so well with his brothers.
 

“George was one of those super cute kids. He knocked his two front teeth out on a table when he was two-years-old but couldn’t have looked any cuter.
 

“He looked absolutely gorgeous with it and everyone used to say how, how has that happened, how does he look so cute.”

“We did so much together as a family. It has left a big gap in our lives.”

To make a donation click here and here.

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