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To mark its centenary year, the ICR launched One Hundred Faces, a powerful new campaign to help raise public awareness of the organisation and its groundbreaking research. The innovative website tells the story of the amazing advancements in cancer research through the voices of 100 people who have been personally affected by cancer.
Karen and Kevin Capel joined the One Hundred Faces campaign and have bravely shared their story about their son Christopher.
Christopher’s story, Age 5
Christopher has the face of an angel. He loves to run, build rockets and play with his collection of monkeys. Karen and Kevin Capel’s only child began displaying symptoms that something wasn’t quite right during his first days at school, but it would be two months beforedoctors could pinpoint the cause - a brain tumour known as medulloblastoma which had also spread to his spine. Brain surgery left Christopher unable to move, eat or talk.
“We didn’t know if our little boy would ever walk or talk again. It was six weeks before he could whisper a word and when he did he said ‘mum’. It was such an uplifting moment,” Karen Capel said. “Christopher’s treatment included five rounds of gruelling chemotherapy over 7 months. We knew the side-effects of this treatment could potentially be enormous, but it was the only hope we had for Christopher to survive.
“Slowly he was able to move his arms, respond to us and sit up in bed. There were many setbacks with complications such as infections, but in July 2007 we felt there was light at the end of the tunnel when Christopher’s scans came back showing the cancer had gone. We made an attempt to re-emerge into the world and begin the long road back to a sense of normality, and were so pleased when Christopher began to gain strength again for the first time in nine months.
“But in November 2007, our world came crashing down around us once again when a routine scan revealed the cancer had come back and we were told the news we were dreading, that our only gorgeous child was unlikely to survive. It was simply devastating and words cannot describe how we felt. There was a moment of hope when Christopher seemed to be responding to a trial drug, but once again, the cancer soon got the upper hand. After a last wonderful trip to Disneyland Paris, and just a few days before Christopher’s sixth birthday our beautiful boy passed away in our arms.
“It has been an incredibly difficult time since losing Christopher. We really wanted to do something to fight this disease which had taken our little boy’s life and decided we wanted to raise money to find a treatment for this disease.
“We don’t want any other child to experience the harrowing treatment associated with child cancers nor the potential lifelong side-effects should they survive. Research at The Institute of Cancer Research holds the best hope of developing drug treatments which will save the lives of children worldwide and without the devastating side effects associated with existing treatments. We launched The Christopher’s Smile appeal and money raised will fund a scientific officer to work on developing a new drug treatment for medulloblastoma.
To find out more visit Christopher's Smile Appeal website.