In his short life, Ben Roe has been diagnosed with two types of leukaemia: acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 2004, followed by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in 2006.
Ben is only the second person in the country known to have developed ALL after AML.
Ben, who was born with Down syndrome, was only 23 months when he was diagnosed with AML. He underwent six months of intensive chemotherapy which put him into remission.
Unfortunately 14 months later in 2006, Ben became ill again, this time diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Lynn, Ben’s mother, says: “Ben fractured his leg after a light fall and when they took the cast off, his leg didn’t look normal. I asked for a blood test and when I saw the white blood cell count I just knew something was wrong.”
Tests confirmed her worst fears. Treatment began immediately but Ben has struggled to cope with the toxicity of the chemotherapy. As a result of frequent bad reactions to the drugs he has missed a lot of treatment. Although his chances of beating this terrible disease are only 50-60%, he is currently doing well.
Lynn says: “Ben smiles his way through everything. He is my little star and my hero. I want his story to be a positive one for parents with children diagnosed with a blood cancer. There is hope - if we can do it, then you can do it.
“A lot of people still think leukaemia is curable but many children are living with blood cancers day in day out and don’t have a choice in the matter. The more publicity this disease gets, the more money will be raised to find treatments and cures.”
The same genetic abnormality responsible for Down syndrome also significantly increases the risk of a child developing leukaemia. Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has over £1.5 million invested in projects which are developing ways to screen children with Down syndrome so leukaemia can be detected and treated before it fully develops.