Mum’s anguish as son battles rare brain tumour

Josh with his mum Michaela Dawson
Josh with his mum Michaela Dawson

JUST weeks ago cheeky Josh Dawson was a normal mischievous five-year-old boy.

But now the Hartlepool schoolboy is battling a rare brain tumour, has undergone life-saving surgery to remove the majority of the tumour and is now facing a fight for survival.

In August, he began to complain of headaches and sickness.

After repeated visits to doctors, medics believed he was suffering from nothing more than a viral bug.

But after being referred to specialists, scans revealed a rare tumour of the brain’s support cells, called an ependymoma, that affects just 450 people in the UK each year.

The Holy Trinity Primary School pupil is now preparing for vital treatment that will hopefully save his life.

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His heartbroken mum Michaela said: “He’s been ill since the end of August.

“He just started being sick and having blinding headaches, we just thought he had a 24-hour bug.

“But when we found out it was a tumour, I was completely numb – this was my five-year-old who had hardly had an illness.

“It was just devastating.”

Now Josh’s family and their friends, John Rogers, 45, and his wife Joanne, 40, have mounted a fundraising campaign to fulfil the Lego-mad boy’s dream of visiting Legoland Florida after he has finished a gruelling course of radiotherapy treatment.

Josh – nicknamed Mr Lumpyhead by his loving family due to his condition – was offered the chance of revolutionary proton treatment in Florida, which targets specific areas of the body and would result in less side effects, but he may be too ill to make it over there.

Now his treatment has been brought forward and is set to start at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital on November 5.

The treatment has more risks, and the family is hoping he will be left with only minor learning difficulties.

Josh first started to feel poorly in August and his mum took him for an eye test and he was given glasses, which helped slightly, although the headaches persisted.

The sickness and headaches continued and doctors told Michaela he had a bug.

Two weeks later, after Josh could not lift his head from his pillow without being sick, a doctor came to see him.

He asked for an ambulance to rush the youngster to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

After a few days in hospital on a drip to replenish his fluids, he seemed to pick up and was well enough to go home.

But soon Josh was poorly again and on September 28, he was sent back to hospital.

The next day, a CAT scan was carried out and Josh was rushed to Newcastle’s RVI Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an ependymoma.

Michaela, from Seaton Carew, said she was not told it was cancerous until a week later.

She added: “That week was just horrible and we were devastated when we found out.

“The doctors said he could have had it a year.”

Two days later, Josh underwent an operation to remove the majority of the tumour.

Now he faces a course of radiotherapy at the Freeman Hospital, where this week he is being fitted for a special protective mask and Hickman line to administer treatment.

Michaela, who had been due to return to work in school catering after time out following Josh’s birth, added: “We have told him we are going to fix Mr Lumpyhead.

“He has got a chance of recovery.”

Josh’s treatment is expected to last until Christmas, and he will be able to come home or stay in the Crawford House accommodation at Newcastle’s RVI if he is not well enough.