Back to normal life for Bingham boy Toby and family after rare cancer battle
Ten years after a community rallied round for a young Bingham boy suffering from cancer, his family have expressed their thanks for all the support they received.
Toby Clough was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer in 2008, and the Bingham community raised £34,000 to help Toby through pioneering proton treatment in Switzerland.
The Advertiser launched the Hope For Toby appeal in June 2009 and it smashed its £20,000 target in just four months.
His mum, Claire, said: “We had so much support from the community at the time. There’s not a day goes by where I am not grateful for everything people did for us.”
Thankfully, Toby is now a typical, healthy 12 year old, who loves playing hockey and football for Bingham Town’s under-13s, is taking drumming lessons, and supports Manchester City.
Toby now attends Grantham’s Kings Grammar School where PE is his favourite subject, and has aspirations of becoming a lawyer, and eventually a judge, when he grows up.
Claire said: “He’s very intelligent, there’s no doubt about it.
“He likes playing on screens and bickers with his brother, but he embraces life and everything he’s got.
“When you think of how poorly he was and how hard it was for us as a family, all I ask for now is that Tobes works hard at school, embraces every opportunity and that he’s caring — and he does all of those things so we couldn’t ask for more.”
Claire first noticed that something wasn’t right when Toby was just two years old, when she spotted a red mark under his eye.
When it didn’t go away on its own, she took him to the doctors who suspected cellulitis, but when two doses of antibiotics didn’t clear it up, Claire took him into hospital.
A biopsy was done on the mark, which was found to be alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. The growth was about the size of a pea put grew to be as big as a golf ball.
He was recommended for pioneering proton therapy, a much more specialised and precise method to treat tumours, and the NHS was willing to fund the treatment at a clinic in Switzerland.
After 12 months of treatment, Toby was declared free of the disease in December 2009, but has been receiving regular check-ups ever since.
Due to his age and the aggressive nature of his tumour, he will be given yearly check-ups until he is an adult. His next is due in January.
Now ten years on, the only lasting effects of Toby’s illness are that his right eye socket is slightly smaller than his left and he needs glasses to read if he gets headaches, but other than that, Claire said Toby got off lightly as they were told he could go blind.
Toby said he remembered little about his illness: “I don’t really remember anything, I remember running up and down the hospital corridor when I went for a check-up, but I don’t remember having chemotherapy,” he said.
“It’s not something that comes up every day, and we just have a normal life now.”
This normal life is something most families take for granted, but for Claire, a normal routine with her husband Kyle and their other children Helena, 8, and 14-year-old Sam, is something she is very thankful for.
“It’s a new normal for us. It was a horrible time when he was ill, but I’m so thankful every day that we had a good outcome, as many families sadly don’t,” she said.
More by this authorRachel Armitage