Jacob starts school after battle with leukaemia

Jacob, Lucy, May and Eleanor Massey
Jacob, Lucy, May and Eleanor Massey
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Four-year-old Jacob Massey has endured chemotherapy, lumbar puncture, bone marrow tests and a lot more over the past three years, but remains remarkably cheerful.

Thanks to his devoted mum and dad Eleanor and Spencer, who have turned his treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia into a game of goblins, their son has “coped very well” with his cancer.

Why do you go to hospital, Jacob? His answer was: “To whack the naughty goblins.”

Mum Eleanor said dad, the new head of maths at Charles Read Academy, in Corby Glen, had tried to turn the treatment into a game by telling the youngster that each of his trips to hospital were to get rid of the “naughty blood goblins” and to make sure they don’t come back.

It has, undoubtedly, helped Jacob to bravely suffer the years of treatments and earlier this month take a huge step - starting school.

Jacob attended his first day as a reception class pupil at The Bythams Primary, where he says, what he likes most are “the children”.

“He is doing really well,” said Eleanor, 31. But he has to take care as his immune system is vulnerable to attack.”

The school has sent letters to all the parents, urging them to notify the school immediately if their child has chicken pox or measles to prevent Jacob catching those diseases.

Eleanor and Spencer, 32, have moved permanently to Little Bytham from Manchester with Jacob and their two other children Lucy, two and May, one, in the hope the countryside will give their son “a better chance”.

Jacob was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when he was one.

For the first eight months he needed intensive chemotherapy treatment at Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital.

“Now he is on oral chemotherapy with monthly intravenous treatment, three monthly lumbar puncture and steroids every month,” said Eleanor.

“That can last until he’s almost seven. But the prognosis is very good.”

The couple decided to move even though hospital trips to Nottingham Queens Medical Centre and Peterborough City Hospital now take longer, because every time the family visited Little Bytham, Jacob seemed more energetic .

“We felt the fresh air and outdoor space may help improve his chances,” said Eleanor.

“I am confident he will do well.

“He will have to have check ups for the rest of his life as there’s always a risk of relapse.

“But we are confident he’s going to be a healthy normal boy by the time he starts secondary school.

“He has been luckier than some of the other children we have seen. He’s not had many side effects and he has coped really well. We have been very lucky.”

About 2,400 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer in the UK every month.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and to help, Eleanor has created a facebook page - www.facebook.com/Facesofward84 - where she shares stories and pictures from Jacob’s oncology ward.