The parents of three-year-old Oli Cohen, one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, have been “overwhelmed” by the support received through a fund for living expenses launched to “keep Oli smiling” while he undergoes treatment.
After many tests to discover why their son was in pain behind his left knee, Katie Cohen, 32, and her husband Steven, 33, were told in December that Oli has Ewing’s Sarcoma in his spine, a rare form of bone and soft tissue cancer. Thankfully, further tests showed that the tumour had not spread.
Brave Oli, one of the youngest people in the world to have been diagnosed with the disease has, for the past four months, been undergoing intensive chemotherapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, with shared care at the family’s local Barnet Hospital.
He has been responding well to treatment and this month the family will travel to Jacksonville, Florida, for three months, where he will receive daily proton beam radiotherapy, which is required because of the location of the tumour.
The family, who live in Woodside Park, say they have been humbled by the support people have given on the ‘Keep Oli Smiling’ Go Fund Me website page set up by their friend Jenni Joplin. “The support has overwhelmed us and we appreciate it so much. People have been so kind to our family in so many ways ever since this happened and that has continued since our friend set up the fund,” Katie says.
The total so far – raised by friends, family, former colleagues and strangers – stands at more than £16,000.
The fund was set up to support the family on their journey to America, to cover their living expenses and to ensure that Oli has the best possible time. The NHS covers the cost of the proton beam radiotherapy treatment.
Katie gave birth nine weeks ago to the couple’s second child, Jamie, and the family has had to adapt quickly to their new life. “Our lives are on hold. We are focused on being there for Oli. He has been an absolutely amazing trouper,” Katie says.
“It has been hard on us all, but Oli has so much character and strength. He hasn’t changed – he’s the same happy go lucky child, obsessed with Transformers. He’s still smiling and making everyone laugh, but he has had to grow up ridiculously quickly. “What we want to do is give Oli the best possible memories,” she adds.
“I don’t want him to look back on this trip and just remember horrible things. We want to do all we can to make this experience as painless as possible for him.” Oli is an inspiration, Katie says. “When he smiles, we smile. But we’re all heartbroken because he’s our little boy and it really hurts. It’s a long road. We just have to believe he’ll be okay.”
You can visit the fund HERE: http://www.gofundme.com/make-Oli-happy