Covid survivor Archie enjoys first family walk after testing negative

Four-year-old cancer patient Archie Wilks has been allowed outdoors for a “fantastic”  family walk after finally testing negative for Covid-19.

Archie, who is being treated for the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma, was diagnosed with coronavirus at the end of March – and it was not until mid April that his parents Simon and Harriet said he appeared to be “out the other side”.

After he finally tested negative four weeks later, Archie, his twin brother Henry and their parents were able to go for the first walk outside their house in two months, through fields close to their home in Saffron Walden, Essex.

Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020
Archie (right), and his twin brother Henry (Family handout/PA)

Mr Wilks, 32, told news agency PA: “It was great to have Archie tested negative. We’ve been in complete isolation anyway due to Archie being so vulnerable and we’ve had to be extra careful, knowing that he has potentially been shedding the virus for the last six weeks.

“The walk was fantastic. I got a good work out carrying them both a mile home, when they refused to walk any further.

“It was a bit more difficult than I remember, they’ve grown in the last two months and we’re a bit out of practice.”

He said getting out of the house helped the whole family to “clear our heads”, and meant the twins went to bed more easily.

“Living in a rural area and not stepping foot off the drive for so long has been difficult mentally, as we often went for walks to clear our heads before the lockdown anyway,” he said.

“Just going for a short walk made all the difference for us all. As most people are finding, it’s mentally tough to be indoors for so long, especially with young children.

“Just leaving the house really excited the boys (and us) and it definitely got rid of some of their extra energy, calming them down and even getting them both to bed on time.”

Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020
The boys being carried home (Family handout/PA)

The boys enjoyed Saturday’s walk so much that the family headed out again on Sunday for a Gruffalo hunt.

“Archie and Henry were in cabin fever fight mode all day today. It was so nice to be able to escape and have an adventure to end the day as friends,” the family said on the Archie’s Journey Facebook page.

Mr Wilks told PA: “We’re going to start walking in the fields behind the house as we can luckily get there without walking close to anyone else from another household, but other than that we’ll still keep isolated at home.”

Archie’s story gave hope to many parents with seriously ill children when PA reported last month that he had survived Covid-19.

The Tottenham Hotspur fan even received a video message from England striker Harry Kane during an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Archie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January 2019 after becoming so ill he could not stand up.

The rare cancer, which affects around 100 children each year in the UK and is most common in children under the age of five, develops from specialised nerve cells (neuroblasts) left behind from a baby’s development in the womb.

Two tumours were found around Archie’s kidney and spine and the disease had spread to other areas, including his bones and bone marrow.

Family and friends are raising money to enable Archie to take part in a vaccine trial in the US which could reduce the chance of the cancer returning once he is in remission.

More than £189,000 has already been raised.

Mr Wilks said 50% of children successfully treated for neuroblastoma will relapse. Of those who relapse, 90% will not survive.

Mr said the vaccine trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York “will look to reduce the chance of that happening and allow us all to know we have done everything possible to give Archie the best chance at life”.

To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/archiesjourney.

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