Readers rally to save 11-year-old cancer victim

Clock is ticking while the NHS decides whether to fund life-saving treatment for boy. Meanwhile, friends and family are raising money - just in case.

THE MOTHER of an East Devon boy fighting his second battle against cancer is overwhelmed by the support of people who have donated money to fund his treatment.

More than �2,000 has been raised for Archant South West’s Help my Son to Live campaign, in aid of Raymond O’Sullivan – just days after its launch. Archant South West owns The Midweek Herald.

The 11-year-old’s family recently found out a cancerous tumour, called orbital rhabdomyosarcoma, had returned for the second time in his life.

He won a previous battle against the condition after he was first diagnosed in 2001.

His mum, Vanessa Evens, collected nearly �1,000 after taking donation buckets to pubs.

Reflecting on the first few days of the campaign, she said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed with the support and generosity of people.

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“Quite often I was in floods of tears when I was going around the pubs and people were digging deep into their pockets to give money.

“For Raymond to have cancer once was bad enough, so, for it to return, was incredibly disheartening. But East Devon is behind him and that was certainly shown by the contents of the buckets last weekend.”

Mrs Evens wished to pay a special thanks to staff and customers in pubs for their generosity.

She said: “What was so inspiring was so many people who donated were individuals who we did not know and had not seen before – complete strangers. The response was fantastic.”

Raymond needs a form of radiotherapy in seven weeks’ time which is only available in America and Holland at a cost of between �15,000 and �18,000.

His family have been told there was a possibility the NHS may not pay, which prompted his mum, in conjunction with Archant South West, to launch a fundraising campaign.

If the health authority does decide to fund the treatment, she said all the money raised would be donated to a cancer charity.

A consultant paediatrician informed Mrs Evens whichever type of radiotherapy Raymond received, long-term damage could be caused to his optic nerve.

One of the likelihoods was his sight could be lost.

In an added fundraising boost, The Freemasons, which comprises Sun Lodge, Rolle Lodge, Per Mare Per Terram Lodge and Sun Chapter Lodge, donated �1,000 this week.

The sum has been matched by The Freemasons’ Holy Royal Arch Chapter of Devonshire.

Money has been raised by a community college and a number of other schools plan to help.

Readers had also donated �320 in various sums by the time we went to print.

Staff at Crealy Adventure Park have also offered Raymond’s family the opportunity to use their play zone for a fund-raising event.

Mrs Evens added: “Recently, I have been looking at this (cancer) issue from an outside-in perspective and as though this is not really happening to me.

“But when people were speaking so much of what I am going through trying to give me strength, it really hit home.”

To donate, make cheques payable to Archant and send to Raymond’s Appeal, Archant South West, Fair Oak Close, Exeter Airport Business Park, Exeter, EX5 2UL.