A five-year-old boy who overcame Covid-19 while being treated for a rare cancer has spent his first day at school alongside his twin brother.
Archie Wilks, of Saffron Walden in Essex had just started pre-school when he fell ill two-and-a-half years ago.
In March last year, while undergoing treatment for the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, he tested positive for coronavirus.
His parents, Simon and Harriet said he appeared to have overcome Covid-19 by the following month, and he has now built up enough strength to be able to join his twin, Henry, in the reception class on Monday.
Mr Wilks said: “It was quite overwhelming seeing them both go to school together, as it’s been such a long time in waiting.
“We were both quite emotional seeing Archie in his school uniform and watching them play all evening in their uniform together.
“We definitely really cherish the simple things after going through this with Archie.”
He said when Archie was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma he could not stand up, but is now “running around blowing bubbles” and has been riding a bike.
“He’s nowhere near his peers and his brother but he’s getting much better,” he said.
He said Archie has “really built up his strength” and is “relishing being able to play with his friends”.
The family are trying to raise £230,000 for Archie to take part in a vaccine trial in America which could reduce the chance of the cancer returning once he is in remission.
More than £215,000 has been donated to his JustGiving page and his father said they are “so close” to their target total.
Archie is due to have surgery to remove a tumour around his kidney in a few weeks’ time, followed by a month of radiotherapy and then six months of immunotherapy, Mr Wilks said.
“It will be straight after the immunotherapy we will be aiming to start the trial treatment,” he said.
The rare cancer neuroblastoma, 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.
Mr Wilks said 50% of children successfully treated for neuroblastoma will relapse.
Of those who relapse, 90% will not survive.
Mr Wilks 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, go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/archiesjourney