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Horsford boy gets award for his battle with cancer

PUBLISHED: 09:29 02 February 2011

Horsford cancer sufferer Ben Clarke, who has received a Little Star award from Cancer Research UK and has been help through his illness by his brother Sam who was given a Little Star keyring.

Horsford cancer sufferer Ben Clarke, who has received a Little Star award from Cancer Research UK and has been help through his illness by his brother Sam who was given a Little Star keyring.

Archant © 2011; 01603 772434

A Norwich schoolboy who spent his 10th birthday fighting for his life after being rushed to hospital with cancer has received a national charity award for his bravery.

Six months ago life was touch-and-go for Ben Clarke, from Horsford. The youngster was taken to hospital the day before his birthday with suspected glandular fever. Within hours, he was being given emergency treatment for leukaemia.

Despite a tough treatment regime, Ben has continued to shine, taking everything in his stride, which is why proud parents Jo and Ian, who live in Meadowsweet, decided to nominate him for one of Cancer Research UK’s Little Star awards.

Ben’s mum Jo, 44, who works as a local government officer for Norwich City Council, said: “I was panicking when they told me he might have glandular fever so when I was told he had leukaemia it was like being physically hit by something.”

The news came as a double blow to the family, which was still coming to terms with the fact that Mrs Clarke’s mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer two months earlier.

Ben’s dad Ian, 47, a graphic designer, said: “As soon as the ‘c’ word is mentioned you assume the worst and then go into a bit of a daze.

“Ben was struggling to breathe because his glands were so swollen so he was taken straight to intensive care at Addenbrookes. He spent his 10th birthday fighting for his life – we don’t like to think what might have happened if he hadn’t gone to hospital that day.”

Although Ben was allowed out of intensive care after nine days, tests revealed that intensive chemotherapy had failed to reduce the level of cancer in his bone marrow.

It was thought he could need a bone marrow transplant, but fortunately by day 28, Ben’s cancer had been reduced to less than five per cent, meaning he was officially in remission.

However, he faces three years of chemotherapy to stop it coming back again.

Mr Clarke said: “Although he’s been critically ill the doctors have been amazed at how he’s coped. Ben was over the moon with his Little Star Award and we think it’s particularly appropriate because that’s been his nickname in hospital all along.

“He puts adults to shame he’s so amazing. No matter how ill he is he just takes everything in his stride and he’ll tell you he’s fine.”

Ben, who has been returning to Horsford Junior School as much as he can between hospital visits, said: “I knew I was ill but I didn’t know how ill. I thought people with cancer had lumps – I’d never heard of leukaemia until the doctor told me about it.”

Paula Young, Cancer Research UK’s spokesman for Norwich, said: “Ben is an inspirational young boy who truly deserves this accolade.”

The annual awards acknowledge the unique challenges faced by youngsters who encounter cancer and are open for new nominations until March 11.

Every child nominated receives a TK Maxx gift card and certificate signed by celebrities. Siblings are also given special recognition of the support they give and Ben’s brother Sam, six, was delighted to receive his own certificate.

To find out more or to nominate a Little Star visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/littlestar.

Do you have an inspiring story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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