A Burnley Army captain whose toddler son is battling cancer has spoken of his brave fight against the disease and praised a charity which helps support the parents of sick children.
Ben Brown (33), the brother of former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis, said Ronald McDonald House, next to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital had been “amazing” since 19-month-old Dylan was diagnosed with leukaemia over a year ago, in December 2014.
Since then Ben and his wife Lisa, who is also in the Army, have spent months living in Ronald McDonald House so they are able to be with Dylan 24 hours a day.
Ben said the need for accommodation close to the hospital is even greater since the couple welcomed daughter Florence, who was born on a maternity ward 100m from her big brother, four weeks ago.
Today Lisa’s sister Nicola Franklin (31) is preparing to climb African peak Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She has already been pledged £6,500 and the family are hoping people in Burnley will donate to the cause.
Ben, who also stressed the importance of giving blood, said: “It makes such an amazing difference. We have to spend 24 hours a day with Dylan. One of us stays at the hospital and the other one at Ronald McDonald House. Having us all close together is crucial.”
We have to spend 24 hours a day with Dylan. One of us stays at the hospital and the other one at Ronald McDonald House. Having us all close together is crucialDad Ben
Dylan was six months old when he was diagnosed during a trip to visit Ben’s parents, who live in Todmorden Road, on Boxing Day, after Ben and Lisa spotted he had a swollen leg. He was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital and later the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where tests confirmed he had leukaemia.
After five months of treatment Dylan was discharged and the family returned to their home in Hampshire thinking he was cured but, unfortunately, after 10 weeks, he had a relapse and was admitted to hospital in Southampton. After three months in hospital there the family moved him back to Manchester where, following chemotherapy treatment, he underwent a bone marrow transplant, organised by the Anthony Nolan Trust, at the end of November.
They are hoping Dylan, who has to be kept in isolation and is not allowed to play with other children as he has no immune system, will be sent home in six weeks. He is on a drip 20 hours a day as his treatment has impacted on his digestive system and has frequent blood and platelet transfusions. “There is probably one hour a day where we can take him outside,” said Ben, who said Dylan is already a Clarets fan.
He said the birth of Florence, who has donated her cord blood to the Anthony Nolan Trust to help others with cancer, had helped his recovery.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to help Ronald McDonald House should visit www.justgiving.com/NicolaFranklin-climbsmountkili/8.