Northumberland teenager Ryan Office given national award for battling brain tumour

A schooboy who has undergone two brain cancer operations has been honoured for his bravery with a national award.
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Ryan Office was just 11 when he was diagnosed with an anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma (APXA) brain tumour in January 2020.

But the Blyth youngster has not allowed his illness to hold him back and as a result of his remarkable courage and determination, he has been awarded a Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People Star Award.

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As well as a star-shaped trophy, the 14-year-old received a £50 TK Maxx gift card, a T-shirt and a certificate.

Ryan Office has endured years of treatment and two rounds of surgery.Ryan Office has endured years of treatment and two rounds of surgery.
Ryan Office has endured years of treatment and two rounds of surgery.

The awards are open to children under 18 who have been treated for cancer within the past five years. He was nominated by his mum Elaine who said the recognition had been a huge boost.

She said: “Parents of children with cancer feel like they’re a bit out on a limb and that’s why these awards are so lovely.

"Having a little gift like that come through the post with an award makes a massive difference.”

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Elaine, a paramedic, began to be concerned about Ryan’s health in late 2019 when he complained of feeling sick in the mornings. Then on New Year’s Day 2020 she noticed something odd about her son’s eye, so

Ryan is back to enjoying life after completing his treatment.Ryan is back to enjoying life after completing his treatment.
Ryan is back to enjoying life after completing his treatment.

she had him checked out by an optician.

She said: “I had seen one of his eyes had turned in. It looked like he was going to go cock-eyed.

“The optician said ‘I don’t want to worry you, but the optic discs at the back of the eyes are very swollen and we need to refer you to the hospital’.

"I just knew at that point that there was something drastically wrong.”

Ryan and his bespoke 'killer clown' mask which he had to wear during his proton beam therapy.Ryan and his bespoke 'killer clown' mask which he had to wear during his proton beam therapy.
Ryan and his bespoke 'killer clown' mask which he had to wear during his proton beam therapy.
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Recalling the moment she was told her son had a brain tumour, she said: “I was absolutely in bits and shocked. When you’re told that, you think the worst-case scenario.”

Ryan had surgery at the RVI and after a 14-day wait, the family learned he had a cancerous grade 3 APXA tumour which required proton beam therapy. They therefore travelled to Florida, one of the few places to offer the NHS-funded treatment.

Elaine’s North East Ambulance Service colleagues raised almost £16,000 for the trip, which she said was a lifesaver and kept them afloat.

Unfortunately, in February 2021 a scan showed the tumour had returned so Ryan had another operation. He now has lifelong epilepsy, for which he takes twice-daily medication, but completed his treatment in March and is now back to enjoying gaming, coding, roller skating, theme parks and rollercoasters.

Ryan and the mask he had to wear during his proton beam therapy in Florida.Ryan and the mask he had to wear during his proton beam therapy in Florida.
Ryan and the mask he had to wear during his proton beam therapy in Florida.
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However, he has to have a scan every three months, which Elaine said was very stressful.

She said: “We get ‘scanxiety’. Once you’ve had one scan and it’s clear, you know you have three months of peace of mind, until a couple of weeks before the next scan. You think the worst because you’re not sure what’s going to happen.”

Through the Star Awards, Cancer Research UK hopes to shine a light on some of the challenges faced by children like Ryan.

Charity spokeswoman Michaela Robinson-Tate said: “Ryan is a real star who has been through so much at such a young age. It has been an absolute privilege to be able to celebrate his courage with a Star Award.”