A YOUNGSTER from Coventry, who had faced cancer twice by the tender age of four, was a guest of honour at a party honouring the strength of children and young people diagnosed with the disease.
Khalid Adam, who will be five in December, attended the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards party, held in partnership with TK Maxx, with his mum Tracy Kyberd and 12-year-old twin siblings, Daniel and Alyssa.
Khalid was first diagnosed when he was only three months old. He was found to have pneumonia and although he continued to be poorly, doctors could not initially explain his on-going health concerns.
When Tracy discovered a lump on Khalid’s groin she took him to A & E and within three hours he was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where doctors diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia.
The youngest child on the ward, Khalid, from Radford, went into remission after six months of intensive chemotherapy, but a few months later his devastated parents were told the cancer had returned.
When more gruelling chemotherapy failed to stop the disease Tracy was told Khalid needed a bone marrow transplant.
Because Khalid is mixed race there was a reduced chance of finding a perfect donor match as some ethnic minorities are under-represented on the bone marrow register. But after several worrying weeks a new mum in the United States donated cells from her baby’s umbilical cord.
They were an 80 per cent match and the frozen cells were sent nearly 4,000 miles to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Khalid had a successful transplant last September.
Now once more in remission Khalid, who was also diagnosed with non-verbal autism in October last year and will need to attend a special needs school, will need check-ups every four months and medication for the rest of his life.
The magical winter wonderland themed party in central London was held in the middle of the UK’s summertime to give children and their families – some of whom have missed out on festive celebrations in the past due to cancer treatment – a memorable experience together.
Khalid enjoyed taking part in a variety of winter themed arts and craft activities including decorating snowflakes, snow globes and gingerbread biscuits, as well as making reindeer head bands to wear at the party. He was also given an exciting opportunity to spend time with Santa in his winter grotto.
Twenty children and young people who have also been affected by cancer joined Khalid for the action packed day. They were treated to performances by the hugely popular children’s TV presenter Mister Maker.
The Star Awards are part of Cancer Research UK’s Kids & Teens fundraising and awareness campaign which aims to accelerate research into finding new, better and kinder treatments for children, teens and young adults with cancer.
Tracy said: “Khalid is an amazing little boy. He has good and bad days but we are blessed to have him. The Kids & Teens Party was absolutely brilliant and it was fantastic to see him enjoying all the fun and excitement and to see his smile light up as he experienced the ‘winter wonderland”.
Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokesperson for Warwickshire, added: “It is an absolute privilege to be able to recognise the strength of youngsters like Khalid who have been through so much at such a young age. He is a true ‘star’.
“Cancer can have a major impact on children and young people, forcing them to show incredible courage beyond their years, so it was brilliant to be able to include Khalid in our winter wonderland themed party.
“Our mission is to save the lives of more children and young people diagnosed with cancer in Warwickshire and across the UK, by finding new better and kinder treatments. We hope Khalid and his family had a fantastic time and created some amazing memories together!”
TK Maxx’s support of the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards is part of a year-round fundraising partnership including its clothing collection campaign, Give Up Clothes for Good.
To donate or fundraise in support of Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens