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Ollie's Story

Ollie's family visited Ben's Retreat in August 2023.

Sunday 20th March 2022 was like a normal Sunday for Ollie. He played rugby for Kings Norton Rhinos RFC U15s. He played a brilliant game and celebrated a win with his teammates after.
The following day he had a little ache around his stomach and right side of his abdomen-but nothing too concerning.

On Tuesday evening Ollie was getting ready for rugby training when his abdomen became very swollen and painful. So much so that we went to A&E. The Dr’s were a little baffled and could not say what was wrong with Ollie, they ruled out appendicitis and sent him home telling us just to monitor him.
The swelling and pain didn't go throughout Wednesday and in the early hours of Thursday morning Ollie’s breathing became laboured. Following advice from 111 we got an appointment with his GP which revealed reduced and virtually absent breath sounds on his right lung and he was referred back to A&E where he underwent further examinations. Initially we were told that this showed that there was a large amount of fluid on his chest, and that he would have scans the following day and he was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
On Friday 25th March Ollie had further ultrasound scans and other tests and that afternoon we received the devastating news that Ollie’s swollen abdomen was due to him having Burkitts Lymphoma a rare type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. This is a very fast developing aggressive cancer. Ollie’s consultant told us that the treatment would be equally aggressive, and that the cancer responds quickly to the chemotherapy but that it would be very harsh on Ollie’s body.
Oliver’s positive attitude to this diagnosis amazed us-when we were upset and crying he told us ‘Don’t cry, I’ve got a bit of cancer, I’ll have a bit of chemo and then I’ll be fine and back playing rugby.’
Ollie went to theatre the following day to have a bone marrow aspiration, a chest drain fitted and to have his central line for the administration of his chemotherapy fitted. Whilst in theatre they drained 1.5ltrs of fluid from his chest. Ollie then had to go to Intensive Care following the procedure. The chest drain had to remain in place to continue to drain fluid from his chest-there was so much fluid that it had been compressing his right lung. In total Ollie had around 6kg of fluid drained from his chest!!Ollie remained on Intensive Care for 4 days following theatre with his chemotherapy starting on 28th March.
It was the evening Ollie was diagnosed that Ollie’s dad posted on Social Media. Gavin wanted Oliver to see that he wasn't alone as he embarked on his fight against cancer. The support Ollie received from friends, family and the rugby community was amazing-messages came in from all over the world.
The day after Ollie had his central line fitted Gavin tested positive for Covid so couldn’t visit for 10 days.
On 4th April we received results of the bone marrow aspiration -the cancer was in his bone marrow. We immediately feared the worst, but Ollie's consultant explained that this just meant a longer and more aggressive chemotherapy plan, but it did not change the prognosis for Ollie. Nor did it change Ollie’s positive outlook - 'Guys it's just a few extra months chemo.'
A week later celebrated Ollie’s birthday a little early as he was able to come home for a couple of days before his chemotherapy continued. This was a massive boost to him as he was able to see his little sister Maisy. They will say they get on sometimes, but they have a really close relationship and it was really hard on them that she was not able to visit him in hospital.
Ollie’s chemotherapy and treatment pushed his body to the brink of what it could take. As it broke down the tumours it ‘attacked’ where it broke the cancer down causing him chronic Bowel pain. He also lost 3 stone.
Ollie tackled everything head on and always had a smile and a thank you for his nurses, even when he felt at his lowest.
Throughout treatment he missed rugby but Ollie’s teammates were been incredibly supportive, and his coaches Jamie and Neil Heafield made sure that Ollie was kept part of the team in spirit whilst he couldn’t physically be there.
Neil wanted to set up a Go Fund Me for Ollie, but in his typical attitude he asked for the money to go to charity instead of to him so that is what happened and the fundraising to date is at £28,000.
Ollie missed a lot of school, but his school did everything in their power to keep him part of the school community and teachers gave up their own time in lunchtimes and after school to help him keep up and catch up.
On 18th August 2022 Ollie rang the bell to signal the end of his treatment.
As soon as he was able Ollie went back to rugby and in November 2022 he played his first game back for his team-it was like he had never been away. Since then his determination to enjoy the game and play the best he can has been immense. By early 2023 he was playing full matches again and going to county rugby training for Greater Birmingham. In January 2023 he got accepted into the ACE Programme at Stourport High School. He has never been more determined to give rugby his best shot, and do everything in his power to make it as a professional rugby player.
In April 2023 he celebrated his 16th birthday, Ollie hates to be centre of attention but asked for a part because his last birthday had (in his words) been shit! So he celebrated at his rugby club with his friends.
In June 2023 he took his GCSE’S and we are waiting for his results which we will get whilst we are at Bens Retreat.
We are all so grateful for the support we have received over the last 18 months. We can’t wait to spend time as a family at Bens Retreat. ❤️

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