15-year-old Harry, from Exeter loves football; he played four times a week and was part of his local team West Exe Youth Football Club.
However after a lump in his leg became very painful, everything changed. He went to the doctor, and after a raft of scans and tests he was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma.
Treatment was gruelling. He had seven months of chemotherapy which made him very sick and he lost more than 10 kilos.
In the middle of this treatment, doctors said that he would need surgery at Birmingham Orthopaedic Hospital to remove the top of his shin and insert a metal rod in its’ place. He also had a course of intravenous immunotherapy following chemo.
Recalling his treatment, Harry said “The first two weeks were fine. Then I was really ill then I would be fine again. During the chemo, everything I smelt made me feel sick. I went from about 56kg to 44kg in four weeks. I was also totally bald. I decided to shave off my hair rather than watch it fall out but I still lost what was left.”
He missed two terms of school – but is still on track to do well in his GCSEs next summer. However, sadly he can no longer play his beloved football any more – a sport he’s been enjoying since he was seven.
“It was really strange at first. One day I was allowed to play football and the next day I couldn’t lift my leg because the tendons are joined to the calf muscle. I can’t play anymore because doctors worry about me falling or getting tackled which might damage the metal in my leg.”
So when he turned to Make-A-Wish® UK, he chose to try out another sport that he might be able to enjoy in the future. His wish was to have a go at cycling at the London Velodrome where the Team GB Olympians excelled in 2012.
On the day, Harry and his family travelled down to London and stayed in a hotel. They went to the Velodrome and met some volunteers there who turn up every week to help other people learn to cycle and they were brilliant.
First, he rode on a tandem bike and then he had a go on his own. He said the whole experience was a little scary as the cycle track is steeper than it looks. But with the support of some volunteers, he kept going and was soon whizzing round the track like a pro! His mum said he was “chuffed to bits when he got higher and reached the advertising boards!”
As a little extra, his wish also included a shopping spree because Harry loves clothes. He said “the wish was everything I could have wanted and more to be honest. The shopping was amazing. I bought loads of clothes and the staff in Supreme [the shop] were so nice.”
The wish was an incredible experience for all the family.
“We can't thank Make-A-Wish enough for what you did.”
“As a family, the trip was amazing for all of us. It was the first time we had been together the four of us for such a long time and we just laughed the whole time we were away. It was particularly good to involve Harry’s brother William who has struggled not having me around very much as he transitioned from primary to his first year in high school.”
Harry continues to enjoy sport today, and is keen to try lots of different things.
He says “I’d like to try cycling again somewhere nearer to home but also wheelchair sports and maybe rowing because I’m quite tall and have long arms. I can play badminton and table tennis so I’m doing those sports for my GCSE PE and in Plymouth there’s a centre that does different sports so I’m planning to go there.”
To help grant more wishes to children like Harry this year, why not Choose Your Challenge - run, cycle or push yourself out of your comfort zone with an extreme challenge!
Whatever you choose - you'll be making a huge differrence to the lives of seriously ill children.