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Dexter’s story: “Our family can’t thank Sheffield Children’s Hospital enough”

15 October 2021

A grateful uncle took on the Virtual London Marathon to say thank you for the care his nephew, Dexter, has received at Sheffield Children’s.Uncle Simon is taking on the virtual London Marathon for The Children's Hospital Charity

Simon Colliver, 38, from Hackenthorpe is brought the London Marathon up north and ran 26.2 miles around Sheffield to express his gratitude for four-year-old Dexter’s care after he became unwell last autumn.

In November 2020, Dexter’s parents took him to a Primary Care Centre because he was pale and were advised to go for a blood test. Dexter was referred to Sheffield Children’s and diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

The condition, which affects around 325 children in the UK every year, is caused by a genetic mutation which releases immature white blood cells into the blood stream.

It progresses with speed and aggression and immediately after diagnosis, Dexter began treatment on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

His care since has included chemotherapy, steroids, and lumbar punctures, while Dexter also had to learn to walk again following his treatment.

Uncle Simon adds: “He was very prone to infections but luckily he was able to spend Christmas at home with his parents. Seeing him lose his hair and gain weight under the steroids was difficult for us all.

“The first time we were able to see him due to the COVID-19 restrictions was six months after he was diagnosed at my son’s birthday in May. Thankfully he’s not changed, Dexter’s still the same cheeky chappy he always was.

“The care he’s had on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward has been amazing, the staff have been second to none and our family can’t thank Sheffield Children’s Hospital enough.”

Dexter is now attending Sheffield Children’s once a week for maintenance chemotherapy. Although his treatment is due to continue until January 2023, Dexter recently started school for the first time for a couple of hours each day.

Dexter’s dad, Nick adds: “We are so thankful to all the staff on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward for making our stay easier, as well as his consultant and physios for helping Dexter get back on his feet. The staff looking after him on his weekly visits to clinic are also amazing.”

Dexter has now started a phased return to schoolTo express his gratitude for Dexter’s care, Uncle Simon is ran a total of 26.2 miles on Sunday 3 October. He has so far raised more than £1,700, which is more than triple his original fundraising target for The Children’s Hospital Charity.

The fundraising will support the appeal to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia ward which provided Dexter’s treatment into a brighter and refreshed space.

There will also be a bigger and better playroom situated in the heart of the ward and the new space will maximise the view of Weston Park, making patients feel connected to the outside whilst they are getting better in isolation.

Simon continues: “I’ve always been a bit of a runner and I started my training in March. I followed a marathon plan and did the London Marathon four years ago now.

“Training had generally been going well, but one day I came home and started doubting myself as to whether I’d made the right decision to sign up. My wife Kay just told me to have a look at my fundraising page and see all the people who had donated already.

“It really lifted my spirits, there’s contributions from friends and family, but also strangers we have never met. Ever since, I’ve just used just three thoughts as motivation: ‘I’m doing it for everyone who has donated, I’m doing it for everyone on the ward and I’m doing it for Dexter.”

Rachael Thomas, Events Fundraising Officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “We would like to say a big thank you to Simon for his fantastic fundraising.

“The money he has raised will help build a new Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s and help improve the experience for families going through such a difficult time by creating a comfortable environment. Everyone in the Charity Team would also like to wish Dexter all the very best as he continues his treatment.”

To support his fundraising or to join Simon in signing up for an event for Sheffield Children’s.

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