North East Wales

Connah Broom starts high school as cancer fight continues

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Media captionConnah Broom and his grandmother Debbie, who explained his progress

A boy with a rare form of childhood cancer who was not expected to live past the age of five is starting secondary school.

Connah Broom, 11, from Flintshire, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2006 and had 11 tumours.

Despite chemotherapy failing for Connah, of Gronant near Prestatyn, and other traditional treatments ruled out, 10 of his tumours have shrunk.

He has started school in Prestatyn, and plans to publish a book next month.

Neuroblastoma affects about 100 children in the UK every year and generally has a poor prognosis.

When conventional treatment was ruled out for Connah his family took him to Mexico for a non-proven alternative treatment.

His family believe that the alternative treatment they organised themselves, called photodynamic therapy (PDT), was responsible for destroying 10 of Connah's 11 tumours.

However, Connah's GP Dr Eamonn Jessup, from Prestatyn Central Surgery, has previously said he is unsure whether the PDT treatment has had an effect on Connah's tumours.

Concerns have also been expressed about clinics overseas offering cancer treatment.

Last year, the Norfolk charity Families Against Neuroblastoma said the parents of children with this rare cancer sometimes went to unlicensed clinics in Mexico.

It called for the UK government to issue guidelines on clinics overseas offering cancer treatment.

A leading paediatric cancer specialist in Germany, Professor Rupert Handgretinger, said last year he was deeply concerned about the treatments offered in Mexico.

Emotional journey

However Connah's grandmother Debbie Broom believes the treatment he had in 2011 has helped him.

He still has a primary tumour in his abdomen but it does not stop him taking part in activities such as street dance and football.

Mrs Broom said: "We went in February for scans and they showed again just the one tumour - the primary. It had reduced slightly, not as quick as we were hoping for unfortunately, but we're getting there.

"Dr Mark Gaze at UCL (University College London Hospitals) has now said don't come twice a year, we'll do scans once a year so it's going to be every February unless we have a problem.

Mrs Broom said it had been an emotional journey but Connah's progress over seven years had been remarkable.

"We've gone back to school full-time," she said. "We've finished infants, it was such a thing to get into juniors, and we've done the juniors and now we're doing the high school.

"People say 'we've done it', Jim and I and Connah's dad Chris. It's not us, it's Connah that's done it."

Connah said he would miss the teachers and pupils at his old primary school but he was "moving on".

"I'm feeling very good actually. I can't wait to go to high school," Connah added.

His book, the Amazing Cancer Kid, is published on 10 October which he hopes will inspire others in a similar situation.

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