Hartlepool toddler Tyler faces three-year battle after cough turned out to be leukaemia

Katie Gibson with her son Tyler Gell aged two. Picture by FRANK REID
Katie Gibson with her son Tyler Gell aged two. Picture by FRANK REID

Playing happily with his toys at home Tyler Gell looks like any other boisterous two-year-old.

But he is fighting an aggressive form of leukaemia and has started treatment which will last for at least the next three years.

Tyler Gell (2). Picture by FRANK REID

Tyler Gell (2). Picture by FRANK REID

Tyler was recently diagnosed with the very rare condition acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Despite the devastating news, his mum Katie Gibson says her little boy has coped brilliantly well with frequent hospital trips.

Members of the family have launched a fundraising appeal to take Tyler to Walt Disney World in Florida when he has finished his treatment.

Katie, 23, of Rift House, Hartlepool, said: “The most upsetting part has been seeing him in hospital when he is upset and in pain.

Tyler Gell (2). Picture by FRANK REID

Tyler Gell (2). Picture by FRANK REID

“For the first couple of weeks he was really struggling. He couldn’t walk properly, was generally weak and the light was affecting his eyes.

“He has always been quite boisterous so seeing him the opposite was quite hard.”

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of cancer where large numbers of white blood cells are released before they are ready from bone marrow into the blood.

It means the cells are less effective at fighting bacteria and viruses.

Katie Gibson (23) with her son Tyler Gell (2). Picture by FRANK REID

Katie Gibson (23) with her son Tyler Gell (2). Picture by FRANK REID

Only around 650 people a year are diagnosed with the condition in the UK.

Katie took Tyler to Hartlepool’s Urgent Care Unit after becoming worried about a persistent cough and the way he was bruising easily.

He was referred to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton for blood tests.

Katie said: “Eight or nine hours later they came back and said they suspected leukaemia.
“We only took him in for a cough, it was such a big shock. You never think it’s going to happen to your own child do you.”

Tyler was quickly referred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle which confirmed the diagnosis and within two days started him on a course of chemotherapy.

Katie praised the hospital saying: “They were absolutely brilliant. I can’t fault them.

“Every time we go up they are so helpful. Tyler actually likes it there.

“He doesn’t like getting the needle in but once it is in he is okay.

“They make it quite fun.”

Tyler is on four forms of chemotherapy including spending one day a week at the hospital.

He also needs an injection every two weeks, is on oral chemotherapy and has just finished a five-week course of steroids.

Katie added: “He has done absolutely brilliant. Nothing has phased him yet.

“The treatment lasts a minimum of three to three and a half years depending on how well it goes.

“He could be in remission after about six months to a year. We have just got to be hopeful.”

The NHS says almost all children will achieve remission and 85% will be completely cured.

Tyler’s uncle Jamie Gibson has started a crowdfunding appeal to help send Tyler to Walt Disney World in America after coming to the end of his treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

The JustGiving page has a target of £500.

Jamie said on the page: “It has been a devastating time for all of the family especially Tyler himself but he has been the most brave strong boy ever taking everything in his stride.

“We would like to raise however much money we can possible for Tyler and his family to go away on holiday to Disney World Florida at the end of the three years as Tyler is not allowed out of the country until all treatment is complete

“This would be the perfect trip and break that Tyler would deserve at the end of everything he will be going through.”

Tyler’s auntie Michelle Ayre is also organising a Monster Mile sponsored walk for children in fancy dress at Crimdon Pony World on April 7.

Tyler’s dad Wayne Gell, granddad Colin Gibson and cousin Lewis Gibson are also planning to have their heads shaved towards the fund.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation can do so at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jamie-gibson-4