A BRAVE couple are refusing to give up on their three-year-old son as he battles an inoperable brain tumour after doctors advised them to enjoy their time together as a family.
Louise Kelly Armstrong from Churchfield, and her husband Dean, are appealing for donations through GoFundMe after exhausting all medical options to help their son Conor in the UK and Ireland.
If unable to source appropriate treatment, funds will go towards one last adventure for Conor in Disneyland. Anything remaining will be donated for research into the disease to offer hope to other children like Conor.
The family’s lives were turned upside down last November when a cluster of tumours was identified in Conor’s brain, with two cancers occurring simultaneously. The more aggressive, known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), controls activity such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate, making it impossible to surgically remove.
Originally from Churchfield, Louise, Dean, Conor, and his seven-year-old brother Jack relocated to the UK close to Royal Berkshire Hospital due to the complicated nature of the toddler’s condition. They are currently in talks with Great Ormond Street and other facilities in an attempt to find treatment outside of the UK.
Louise’s sister Therese, who is also Conor’s godmother, has been a rock to her family since the diagnosis in November of last year. She extended her gratitude for those who have donated to the GoFundMe page, which has raised more than €28,000 for Conor to date.
“Louise doesn’t want to be out of Conor’s sight,” she told The Echo.
“This is precious time they have with him, and it’s time they are never going to get back. Louise has been told that there is no more that they can do, but she’s going to fight to try and save her little boy. We know we will have to knock on 100 doors for just one person to answer and say: ‘Come on in, we want to help you’.”
Louise added that Conor has been robbed of so much so soon.
“Before this, he was a typical three-year-old who loved playing with Lego and his older brother Jack,” she said.
“Now he’s become withdrawn. He’s frustrated about the changes within him and not being able to do the things he was once able to do. He was meant to be starting in the local pre-school, but that can’t happen now. He hasn’t experienced anything in life. It’s so sad to think that someone would experience this before they experience school, college, or going on their first date. We would take it all for him if we could. There are no words that come to you at a time like this. All we do is ask: ‘Why?’.”
The last few months have been extremely painful for the family.
“We don’t have a tear left in us because we have cried so much,” she said.
“Recently, Conor was watching soccer on the television when he told his mum and dad he wants to be a soccer player when he grows up. It’s a good thing, in a way, that he’s not old enough to understand what is happening to him. If he was older and aware, it would be a lot tougher.”
Therese said she is extremely proud of her sister Louise who she described as an amazing mother to both of her children.
“Louise is trying to explain to Jack that Conor is very sick, while at the same time trying to shield him from it all and protect his innocence. He knows that his brother is sick, but not the extent of his illness.”
The family insist they will continue exploring Conor’s options for as long as it takes.
“Initially, it was meant to be the [United] States, but that’s not an option for him now, so we are looking for places closer to home, like Germany, Switzerland, or Poland. Any assistance or help at all is what we are looking for right now. We know they can’t take the tumour out, but if they could shrink it in size, we might have another few years. We will never close the door on this, and will continue fighting for Conor.
“They did start him on chemo last week, and Louise and Dean are meeting with an anesthesiologist to see if he can get an anaesthetic for radiotherapy. Louise hasn’t left Conor’s side because she is so frightened that something will happen to him when she’s not around. Conor’s just been sitting on the couch with his head on her lap.”
Therese recalled how Conor has been bringing joy to his family since birth after defying the odds as a miracle baby.
“Conor was never meant to be here. When Louise was suffering from cancer she was told she would never be able to have kids as a result of having so much chemo. She initially thought she was sick again before realising she was pregnant with Conor. Doctors said they didn’t know how it was possible.”
The little boy has captured the hearts of his community and beyond.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone in the community who has done so much for us,” said Therese. “Years ago you could knock on someone’s door here if you needed anything from a lump of coal to sugar. The support we’re getting has shown us that everyone in the area is as kind as generous as they ever were.”
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/please-help-our-son-conor