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Oliver Burton, 10, faces his third battle with cancer, as parents raise cash for farewell treats


A "little fighter" is facing his third battle with cancer – one his parents have been told he will not win.

Oliver Burton, 10, from Birstall, was first diagnosed with leukaemia in 2006, aged just three.

Since then, his parents have twice been told their son had just hours to live – but both times little Oliver has defied doctors' predictions and pulled through.

But despite his strength and bravery, last month his parents, Catherine and James Browne, were told his latest cancer relapse could not be cured.

He has Downs Syndrome, which makes his body extra sensitive to medicines and doctors said intensive treatment would probably leave him fighting for his life in hospital.

Catherine and James have brought Oliver home and are determined to make his final months or years as happy as possible, filled with treasured memories for him and little brother Ethan, five.

Helped by their friends, they are raising money to pay for treats and trips for their boys.

Catherine, 28, said: "Oliver had never once complained about anything.

"He is happy and his attitude is that he hasn't a care in the world and he is an absolute inspiration to us.

"We've never been ones to ask for help or money before, but we have slowly realised that if people want to help us do fun and happy things with the boys then we should let them.

"Life is rubbish at times, but we will deal with it with a smile on our face. Creating these happy and fun memories for the boys will help us keep smiling and keep going.

"We want to tell the world about our brave boy who we are so proud of."

When Oliver was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2006 he made a full recovery and was in full remission by June 2008. But in May 2010 a test on fluid inside his spine revealed the cancer had returned.

Before he could leave hospital he contracted the life-threatening skin condition Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which causes lesions and saw Oliver shed almost all his skin.

His parents were told to call in family and friends to say goodbye to Oliver, but he pulled through and eventually returned home.

While the cancer was terminal and intensive chemotherapy was not an option because of Oliver's Downs Syndrome, daily, less-intensive treatment at home meant the cancer was held at bay and Oliver entered partial remission.

"While they couldn't blast out the hiding cells, he was doing well and he was enjoying life and getting on with things again," said Catherine.

But in October last year, Oliver's health started to go downhill and less than two weeks before Christmas he was again diagnosed with cancer – this time in his spine and bone marrow.

He began to have trouble breathing and was transferred to the high dependency unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary and put on an aspirator to help him breathe. MRI scans revealed he had suffered a toxic reaction to chemotherapy which had affected his brain.

Once again, his parents were told to say goodbye – but once again Oliver proved them wrong.

"We spent all night at the hospital looking at photos of him and praying, willing him to come back," said Catherine.

"We got up the next morning and went to intensive care and we saw the physio coming out and she looked a bit funny.

"We asked her what was wrong and she said they were aspirating his tube and that they knocked it out of place and that he started breathing and had gone and woken up.

"I was just hit with emotions – relief and shock and elation.

"The neuros and consultants said they couldn't believe what had happened.

"They said they were going to come and talk to us that day about switching his machines off. We were absolutely amazed."

Oliver was able to come home to celebrate a Christmas filled with relief and joy.

A month ago, the couple had an appointment with Oliver's consultant. They thought they were going to talk about intensifying his treatment, but doctors delivered the crushing news that Oliver's cancer could not be intensively treated and there was no cure.

They offered his parents two choices – keep giving Oliver pallative treatment to keep him well enough to enjoy time with family and friends at home, or risk intensive treatment which would probably leave him fighting for his life in hospital within a matter of weeks.

"Either decision was bringing it to the same outcome," Catherine said. "If we take him home we can give him quality of life with family and friends and at Rainbows hospice, which he absolutely loves.

"It is hard and it is devastating, and there are nights when it just goes around your head, but people's support has been absolutely amazing and our Oliver is our inspiration."

Oliver Burton, 10, faces his third battle with cancer, as parents raise cash for farewell treats

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