Four-year-old boy who has beaten leukaemia twice starts first day of school

Four-year-old boy who has beaten leukaemia twice in his short life defies the odds to start first day of school
Four-year-old boy who has beaten leukaemia twice in his short life defies the odds to start first day of school

Story and video from SWNS

A brave little boy who has beaten leukaemia twice in his short life has defied the odds - to start his first day of school.

Mum Kirsty Knighton said there were times she had thought she would never see four-year-old son Josh Stockhill in his school uniform on his first day.

Josh was first diagnosed with acute nymphoblastic leukemia at just eight months old - and his parents were told following his diagnosis that he may not make it through the night.

And after nine months of "rigorous" chemotherapy treatment, parents Kirsty Knighton, 36, and Craig Stockhill, 40, were dealt another blow - when they were told Josh had relapsed at just two years old.

But, Josh has defied the odds to start his first day at Leighton Primary School in Peterborough - a milestone which has left his parents "emotional".

Ikea worker Kirsty, from Orton Malborne in Peterborough, Cambs, said: "I got so emotional when he tried the uniform on.

"We have seen so many children who have not made it through our journey - we are so thankful Josh has this chance.

"He went in yesterday to see his new classroom and meet his teacher, and he's so excited to start properly."

And Kirsty is now speaking out during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to urge people to consider donating blood when they can - after a crucial cord blood donation saved Josh's life.

Josh, who has three older brothers and one younger brother, was first diagnosed at just eight months old - before he was even old enough to start crawling.

Kirsty said: "We started noticing him coming out in bruising, which we thought was a bit strange as he wasn't even moving about at that point.

"We took him to the doctor, who sent us to Peterborough City Hospital for a blood test.

"They told us they suspected leukaemia, and they sent us to Addenbrookes Hospital at 8pm that same evening, where we were told he had infantile acute nymphoblastic leukemia.

"We were devastated. We were absolutely floored by it. We never, ever thought it would be that."

Josh began "rigorous" chemotherapy treatment - which was supposed to last an initial six months, followed by a further 18 months of less intensive "maintenance" treatment at home.

But during just the first month of chemo, Josh developed sepsis, and ended up in intensive care.

Kirsty said: "We were told that there was a 50/50 chance he would make it through the night. We almost lost him at nine months old."

In the end, Josh's initial six months of intense chemotherapy lasted nine months.

Then, in May 2018, when Josh was two, Kirsty and Craig were given the devastating news that his leukemia had returned - and that he needed a brain marrow transplant to survive.

Kirsty said: "He got a rash and an abscess on his face, and we kept asking whether it had returned."

Josh's brother Zach, seven, was tested as a bone marrow match - but it was found he was sadly not compatible.

Thankfully, Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge found a ten out of ten match for brain marrow donation for Josh, from a patient in Spain.

But the family had to relocate from Addenbrooke's Hospital to Bristol for eight months, for Josh to receive the donation, and recover from the treatment.

And throughout the whole process, Kirsty was pregnant with Josh's younger brother Olly, now one.

Thankfully, Josh has continued to recover well since his brain marrow transplant - with this November marking two years since the treatment.

Kirsty said: "We mark every milestone, and with each one he is getting better and better.

"He will be on medication for life, and under consultation for life, because of how severe his leukaemia was.

"We don't know what the future holds for him. But he's such a jolly child. He's so excited to start school."

And Kirsty has urged other people to consider donation - especially of cord blood, which saved her son's life.

She said: "It was a cord blood donation from Spain that saved him. Some hospitals keep it, some don't, but it can be a real life saver.

"It is so, so important - if you ever get the chance to donate, please do."