When little Mitchell Brown’s brain tumour was removed, there was some hope his family could relax and his scare was over. But as they deal with the aftermath, they still live in constant fear of it coming back
Five-year-old Mitchell Brown, from Longridge, was diagnosed with a brain tumour just as he turned three – now, after intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy and surgery, it has been taken out.
However, there are no guarantees their nightmare is over, as it could return and Mitchell has also been left with other related health problems.
His mum Tara says: “It is funny, as people say it is great he is clear, but we actually can’t say that yet.
“Because of the nature of the cancer, there is a high chance of it recurring. We need to wait 10 years since he began his treatment for there to be no signs at all.
“So, at the moment, it is a constant worry when we have his six-monthly scans as we don’t know if anything has changed. He originally had scans every three months, but as they were all clear, doctors were comfortable to do it every six months. His next scan is due in March.”
Mitchell, who is more affectionately known as Mitchie, still has to attend various appointments at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, including endocrinology, audiology, dental, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Tara adds: “Mitchie is still under several specialists.
“The radiotherapy damaged his pituitary glands, which affects his testosterone and other functions in his glands such as thyroid. As a result, it will affect his growth and he will need to be injected with the health hormone. As he is still growing, he doesn’t need that yet.
“Radiotherapy beams around his mouth meant that his grown-up teeth may not come through.
“Mitchie needs a hearing aid after his hearing was damaged from chemotherapy. And as the main tumour was pressing in his cerebellum, causing ataxia, he is unsteady on his feet. He falls over a lot and quite often he doesn’t have time to put his hands out and so he hits his head.
“He has strengthening exercises with physiotherapy and they are pleased with his progress, from him not being able to walk to walking. He is also seeing an occupational therapist as his right side was affected by the brain tumour. He was right-handed, but now he is favouring his left side. His right hand is shaky and wobbly.
“He also attends The Mobility Centre in Preston, as he has lost the use of his right foot and his ankle is not working properly.
“He had a full splint in the back of his leg and knee, as his foot was floppy and had no control. He has progressed now and has orthotics, which are splints in both feet to stop his knees from rolling inwards and keep his legs straight.
“At the moment, he is not having as much physiotherapy because he is playing football with Longridge Town Juniors once a week and he also goes swimming twice a week, which are great strengthening exercises for him. He is not that fast, but it is so good for him and he
really enjoys it.
“He had a whole year following his diagnosis when he didn’t have any interaction with other children, so this is brilliant for him.”
Mitchie, who now attends Longridge CE Primary School, was diagnosed at the beginning of 2017, after feeling ill over Christmas and New Year.
Tara adds: “In November 2016, just as he had turned three, he was being sick and was wobbling when he walked. He also developed a shake in his right hand. We took him to the GP who gave him Gaviscon, but by Christmas he had not got any better. We took him to Royal Preston Hospital and an MRI scan found he had a brain tumour. He was sent to a specialist in Manchester who said the tumour was pressing his cerebellum at the bottom of his head and top of spine, but it could be taken out.
“But after further scans, they said the brain tumour was the mothership and there were seedling tumours everywhere. He needed radiotherapy and chemotherapy and doctors wanted to send him to America for proton beam therapy, but we didn’t have the time.
“Radiotherapy is not normally given to children under three as it damages the body and as he had only just turned three, we
decided to have the surgery and give him a chance to get a bit older. But we were advised he may not get that far and so we had to do it then. He had six weeks of radiotherapy and four months of chemotherapy.”
Just 11 months after Mitchie’s diagnosis, in November, the family was dealt another blow, as his dad, Tony, was diagnosed with throat cancer. Tara adds: “It is almost as if it happened to another person. But we have always been very positive. Luckily Tony has now finished his treatment and his scans have come back clear.”
Now, the Brown family are looking forward and helping to raise funds to support other families through their charity group Miles for Mitchie. To support their crusade, 10 coaches from Longridge Town Juniors are preparing to enter Ultimate Warrior, which is a 12k assault course in Leeds, in June.
Tara says: “We are blown away they are doing this for Miles. The coaches are really good with him, watching out for when he falls.
“With the Miles for Mitchie fund, we have sponsored a room at Ronald McDonald House in Manchester and we are in talks with The Christie to help purchase a projector machine that has sensory therapy and physiotherapy, as well as play time. Miles has used this himself and he
really liked it.”
The coaches will also use the Ultimate Warrior event to raise funds for a powered wheelchair to help 19-year-old Oliver Ashton, from Longridge, who has Coffin-Siris Syndrome.
Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/longridgetownwarrior and for more information on Mitchie, visit www.kitbouman.wixsite.com/milesformitchie.