Charlie, aged eight, to raise funds for Sheffield hospital which ‘mended him’ following brain tumour diagnosis

Charlie Leek, an eight-year-old brain tumour survivor from Sheffield who is to raise funds forSheffield Childrens Hospital to thank staff there for the care he received. He is pictured ringing the bell at the hospital to mark the end of his treatment.
Charlie Leek, an eight-year-old brain tumour survivor from Sheffield who is to raise funds forSheffield Childrens Hospital to thank staff there for the care he received. He is pictured ringing the bell at the hospital to mark the end of his treatment.

An eight-year-old brain tumour survivor is to raise funds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital to thank staff there for the care he received.

Charlie’s brain tumour was discovered when he was four-years-old after his mum, Nicole Hirst, aged 28, noticed he was becoming more tired and walking into things.

The family, of Stocksbridge, were referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for an eye test which quickly led to an emergency CT scan when it was discovered there was intense pressure being put on his optic nerves.

Nicola said: “The doctors told us that the tumour was acting like a plug in his brain and the fluid was building up around it, they said he was close to going into a fatal coma.

“We were almost relieved that there was something to explain what was happening but I was terrified that we might lose him.”

Charlie was admitted on to a ward at the hospital the same day before undergoing surgery to have a shunt fitted to drain the fluid from his brain later that week.

“When he woke up we thought he’d be groggy and a bit confused after nearly eight hours in brain surgery, but he woke up and said ‘mum, I feel brand new’ which made me feel awful as it just showed us how bad he must have been feeling before,” added Nicole.

In November 2015, Charlie returned to the hospital for a biopsy to examine the tumour. After the biopsy he began coming back to the hospital for regular scans every three months to monitor the growth of the tumour.

In September 2017 it was discovered that his tumour had continued to grow which meant he needed another biopsy and an operation to remove as much of the tumour as possible and stop the growth.

Nicole said: “We were told to prepare ourselves for the fact that Charlie would have to learn how to walk and talk again after his surgery and that he could have severe memory loss, but when he came round the first thing he did was recite his five times tables.”

“The nurse said we’d need to wait for him to eat to know how he was and straight away he said ‘mum I want a ham sandwich’. We couldn’t believe it, but that’s what he’s been like through it all. He’s taken it all in his stride, he’s amazing.”

After his operation, Charlie underwent 10 weeks of intense chemotherapy, visiting the hospital for further treatment for the next year.

Now, after four years of surgery, treatment, chemotherapy and lots of visits to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Charlie is on the road to recovery and only needs scans every three months.Earlier this month he rang the end of treatment bell on the hospital’s cancer Ward to mark the occasion.

Charlie said: “I was really excited to ring the bell; all the nurses from the ward came to watch. My favourite thing about the hospital is that they mended me and that I’ve made loads of friends here.

Nicole said: “We’re such close friends with the staff here now, they have become like family to us as well as the other parents and children on the ward.”

To celebrate the end of Charlie’s treatment the family are holding a party and instead of gifts have asked people to make a donation to The Children’s Hospital Charity instead.

Nicole added: “We’ve raised lots already but will definitely keep going, without the hospital Charlie wouldn’t be here.”

The Children’s Hospital Charity have launched an appeal to transform the Cancer Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Visit www.tchc.org.uk to support it.