TYLER Witherall was the first patient to ring a newly-donated end of treatment bell at Basildon University Hospital, exactly one year after tumours were found on his spine and brain.
Tyler, six, was disappointed in July when he had his last round of chemo at the hospital, because there was no bell like the one he rang when he finished treatment at Great Ormond Street.
So his grandmother, Dawn Witherall, suggested they raise some money to donate a bell to Wagtail Ward, where the oncology treatment rooms are located.
Dawn, 45, said: “I asked Ty if he wanted to do it and he was really keen. The staff at Basildon Hospital have done so much for us and we really wanted to do this for them and other children who finish their oncology treatments.”
Tyler was brought into Basildon Hospital a year ago and an MRI scan showed he had multiple tumours on his spine and brain. He was sent to Great Ormond Street Hospital for an operation to remove the majority of the brain tumour, which was found to be cancerous. The spinal tumours are inoperable.
Since then Tyler has had an emergency cycle of radiotherapy at University College London Hospitals, when it was discovered the tumour had started to grow again, plus two cycles of chemotherapy at Basildon Hospital. Tyler is semi-paralysed down one side of his body as a result of the surgery.
Dawn added: “When he first came into hospital, the staff thought he had ADHD or autism, but it turned out it was the tumour affecting his personality. I think he brought a smile to the faces of some nurses when he came round from surgery in recovery and asked for a McDonald’s.
“You just don’t think this will ever happen to you. He has coped absolutely brilliantly. I don’t think I could’ve gone through what he has gone through.”
Tyler rang the end of treatment bell at 1pm on Friday 30 October and got a great round of applause from all the staff on the ward.
Jaki Hargreaves, paediatric oncology nurse, said: “It is so kind, and typical of Tyler, to think of other children. It was very emotional watching him ring the bell for the first time. I think it’s a lovely tradition to have introduced here and we’re very grateful to the Witherall family for their kind donation.”