Childhood Cancer survivor Jasper Lilley on his bicycle

Childhood Cancer Awareness: Wallington schoolboy face of campaign

A Wallington schoolboy who survived a rare form of brain cancer has been made the face of a poster campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 

Jasper Lilley, now 12, will have his picture on display in charity shop windows across the country following a photoshoot with Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People. 

Jasper and his family know first-hand just how vital the research that Cancer Research UK helps coordinate is, after Jasper was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour called a medulloblastoma at only five years old. 

Looking back on the diagnosis, his mother Alice Lilley said: “He doesn’t talk about it much but I once found some of his school work when he was about seven, where they had been asked to write about their heroes.

““He wrote: ‘I am my own hero because I had a brain tumour and I still came to school’. “

After experiencing spells of headaches, sickness and dizziness for months, it was finally confirmed that a mass was present in Jasper’s brain, making him one of the 52 children who will develop a medulloblastoma each year. 

Treating the cancer required two rounds of surgery, followed by six weeks of intensive daily radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

Fortunately, Jasper is now cancer free and living his life to the fullest, hoping to attend university and pursue a creative career.

Reflecting on her son’s journey, Alice Lilley told Cancer Research UK: “Jasper is doing really well.

“He still has some side effects from the radiotherapy but nothing really holds him back from what he wants to do.

“Compared to what he was like then, he is so different.

“Sometimes I look back and it makes you appreciate where he is now.”

Perhaps more than anything, Alice is amazed by the resilience her son showed throughout his ordeal, even at such a young age.

She said: “He coped with years of treatment with real strength and courage.”

Now, Jasper and family hope to use his story to increase public perception of childhood cancers and encourage people to donate to the charities that are trying to fight them.

Foremost among them is Cancer Research UK, who played an indirect yet pivotal role in Jasper’s story by organising a clinical trial in 2003 that showed that combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy could improve the quality of life for those with tumours like Jasper’s. 

This trial, and other research like it, has been crucial in doubling the rates of survival for childhood cancer in the UK since the 1970s. 

London spokesperson for Cancer Research UK, Lynn Daly, said: “Cancer in children is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects for survivors

“It needs different, dedicated research that we’re grateful to people for helping to fund.”

Those who want to join the battle against childhood cancers can do so by purchasing a gold ribbon badge for Childhood Cancer Awareness at Cancer Research UK stores throughout the month of September. 

Beyond that, they can donate the clothes they don’t want anymore to a branch of TK Maxx as part of its Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, where they can then be resold in Cancer Research UK shops to directly contribute to funding groundbreaking clinical trials. 

To find out more about childhood cancers and how to get involved in beating them for good, visit the Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People here. 

Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK

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