Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Terminally ill boy responding to treatment in Mexico

Jennifer Ure Stewart and Luke Image copyright Other
Image caption Jennifer Ure Stewart with her son Luke

The mother of a terminally ill boy from East Lothian has told how treatment he is receiving in Mexico - paid for by a huge crowdfunding campaign - is helping improve his quality of life.

Seven-year-old Luke Stewart, from Tranent, has a brain tumour known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

His mother Jennifer Ure Stewart and her husband Mark are with him at Monterrey Valle Oriente hospital.

Speaking from Mexico, on BBC Radio Scotland's Kaye Adams programme, she said they felt as though they had their "son back" following a course of intra-arterial chemotherapy treatment.

She told how Luke is now able to give eye contact again and smile and is trying to move the right side of his body, which "doesn't work" due to the tumour.

The seven-year-old was first diagnosed on 5 January and since then £164,000 has been raised for him to have the treatment, which is not available in the UK.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Jennifer and her husband Mark with Luke (second from right) and his brothers Lewis and Lochlin

Mrs Ure Stewart said the family were pleased with his reaction to the treatment.

She said: "Since his treatment here, we feel as though we have got our son back.

"He's communicating with us more and he's trying to do things with the right side of his body, which doesn't work as efficiently as his left side.

"Now he is trying to use his left arm and he's been to the swimming pool and little things are better. His eye contact is so much better and his smile is back."

When Luke was diagnosed he was given between six and nine months to live.

The cost to see the doctor in Mexico is about $40,000 (£30,800) which includes the initial operation and living costs.

The infusions are $10,000 (£7,700) each and then Luke will be given a boost of immunotherapy costing around $15,000 (£11,500).

The couple said their fundraising target is £350,000.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Mrs Ure Stewart said she wanted Luke to live his life as a "happy" seven-year-old

Mrs Ure Stewart said they have not told Luke that his illness is terminal.

She said: "I never thought my child would have a brain tumour and I never thought my son would have cancer.

"This treatment has given him, so far, a better quality of life. We can't let it be any different for Luke and his brothers' lives.

"We have made sure he has no knowledge of what is going on. We've explained so far that he has a lump in his head and we are trying to get rid of it.

"We haven't mentioned the word cancer or brain tumour."

She added: "Luke would ask more and more questions. He's quite knowledgeable and wants to know about things in depth.

"I feel for a child there are certain things that he doesn't need to know and he needs to live his life as a happy seven-year-old boy.

"We have tailored what he needs to know around what he should know at this stage."

Before the treatment Luke was not interacting, he was "quite unhappy" and his balance and speech were not very good.

Now the family say he is improving and enjoying his life again.