Clare Boxwell, 28, first became concerned for her 8-year-old son Lee's well being when he returned from school one day with countless bruises around his body and two black eyes.
Speaking to i News, the Bristol mother said: "He came home black and blue – with purple dots all over his arms – and I went to see his headteacher."
However, Clare's concern only continued to grow when Lee became increasingly lethargic.
She added: "He was sleeping all day and he wouldn't eat or drink and got bad headaches so I took him to the hospital."
It was then that Clare and her ex-partner Simon were told that their son was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – an aggressive type of cancer which commonly affects white blood cells in the bone marrow.
What's more, Lee's white blood cell count was so high that doctors said he only had 24 hours to live if he wasn't immediately put into a medically-induced coma.
During his one month coma, Lee also suffered from a stroke as well as two bleeds on his brain which left him unable to walk or talk.
Describing that difficult time, Clare said: "It took almost a year to get him walking again and he had to learn to talk all over again. He still has weakness on his left side.
"But he had intense chemotherapy and we had the best news – his cancer was gone."
Following this successful round of treatment, doctors hoped Lee could have a bone marrow transplant to rekick his immune system and prevent his cancer coming back in future.
What is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia?
- Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells
- Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is very rare and around 650 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK
- Although rare, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is the most common type of childhood leukaemia – about 85% of the cases that affect children occur in those younger than 15
- Symptoms of the condition include easily bruised and pale skin, feeling tired and breathless, night sweats and unexplained weight loss
But a year later, Lee sadly relapsed with the cancer spreading to his brain and spinal fluid.
Recalling how she had to break the news to her son, the heartbroken mum said: "He really got upset and cried.
"It was a devastating blow as he thought it had gone."
Going in for another round of chemotherapy, Lee's cancer sadly only became more aggressive.
Earlier this year, the toxicity of Lee's treatment even caused his heart to stop for eight minutes.
Clare said: "It was horrible to watch, I couldn't stop sobbing.
"We really thought his body had given up but the medics fought so brilliantly to save him."
Following this aggressive round of chemo, Lee's family were told the little boy was cancer-free again.
But in August 2018, the 8-year-old's cancer returned for a third time.
However this time, the cancer in Lee's bone marrow had increased above 0.01 per cent which means he is now unable to have the transplant he so needs.
After being put on a new trial drug, Lee's white blood count only continues to increase and his family are now desperately trying to raise £90,000 for Lee to undergo experimental treatment in the US.
Clare said: "There is another drug being trailed in the US which we're desperate to try him on – it's his only hope."
The family have been told Lee will not survive another round of intensive chemotherapy.
However, the family have to pay £37,000 upfront to get Lee on the trial – not to mention the cost of flights and accommodation while they're out there.
Having already raised £5,000 through donations, Clare said: "Lee is such a happy, bubbly child despite all he is going through."
Aware of the seriousness of his condition, the desperate mum added: "He cries every night and says he doesn't want to leave me, his dad or his big sister.
"It's a lot of money to raise for the treatment but we can't give up on him."
You can make a donation to Lee's GoFundMe page here.
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