A 13 year old boy recovering from leukaemia has been gifted a gaming computer with flight simulator software from Simon’s Heroes children’s charity, to help him achieve his ambition to become a pilot.
Josh Williams from Tamworth was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was 10 years old.
‘He had been suffering from dizzy spells, fatigue and aches and pains,’ his mum Vicki recalled. ‘The dizzy spells became more frequent and bruises started appearing on his body.’
Josh’s GP recommended he had some blood tests which were carried out at Good Hope Hospital. Further analysis was conducted at Birmingham Children’s Hospital which included a bone marrow biopsy.
‘I was in total shock when they told me he had leukaemia. I’d initially thought he might be anaemic because he was so tired all of the time, I never dreamt it was cancer.’
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (All) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Adults and children can get it but it is most often diagnosed in younger people. It progresses rapidly and aggressively and requires prompt treatment.
Josh’s chemotherapy started immediately. A Hickman line was inserted into his chest to administer the treatment. This course was to last 9 months however during this period the line became infected on 2 occasions. The latter caused sepsis and Josh became extremely poorly and almost died. He spent a few days in intensive care before being moved to the high dependency unit after his condition started to improve. He also endured a number of side effects from the chemotherapy including hair loss and weight gain.
Once the intravenous treatment had concluded, Josh began a course of oral chemotherapy. This involved taking multiple tablets daily, up to 22 on some occasions, as well as having fortnightly blood tests. During his treatment Josh attended school when he felt well enough, which became more frequent as he started to improve. He is currently full time and enjoying the normality of everyday life and is looking forward to July when his treatment will conclude.
Josh has a huge interest in aviation and recently joined Tamworth RAF Air Cadets where he attends weekly. ‘He is a bright young man and full of aspiration!’ beamed his mum, ‘he hopes one day to become a pilot and invests a lot of time educating himself on the subject.’
Josh contacted Cosford Flying Club to express his interest. They have since invited him to the centre on several occasions to use their Flight Simulator and he has even flown an aircraft!
‘The computer and flight software will help improve my skills and prepare me for the next step when I’m a bit older,’ Josh said. ‘I will have a lot of exams to take and the simulator will really help my learning.’
Mum, Vicki, added: ‘The generous gift from Simon’s Heroes will not only benefit Josh long term but has provided him with some light relief from what has been a very traumatic time for all of us. Thank you.’