Dagenham boy diagnosed with rare cancer to enjoy first family holiday
- Credit: Nicola Chapman
A boy with a rare cancer which caused him to go through puberty at the age of seven is about to enjoy his first holiday.
Dean Cousins from Dagenham was diagnosed with an intracranial non-germinomatous germ cell tumour in January.
Mum Nicola Chapman said: "It was a very big shock. Only 10 children a year are diagnosed with this kind of tumour. It's a very rare one."
Dean developed acne and grew facial hair as a result of pressure the tumour placed on the part of the brain which causes puberty.
Medics found the mass after Nicola and dad Chris rushed to Queen's Hospital because their son suffered headaches and kept being sick.
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A biopsy was followed by four rounds of chemotherapy and the removal of the tumour in June.
Since then, the youngster has undergone blood transfusions, had a shunt inserted to remove fluid on his brain, developed a lung infection and suffered sepsis.
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The lad completed his last round of radiotherapy on September 6 and the family should know if Dean has beaten the cancer in November.
On top of the tumour, Dean has been diagnosed with parinaud syndrome, which affects his ability to look up and down, as well as autism and obstructive hydrocephalus, which puts him at risk of growth failure.
A Mr Bean fan, Dean has lost 11kg, is fed through a tube and has to make regular visits to Great Ormond Street Hospital for kidney treatment.
Nicola recalled breaking the news of Dean illness to him.
The Spurs fan asked if the treatment would stop him being sick before cracking a joke about Jaffa cakes.
"He has the nurses in stitches. He has taken it all on his shoulders. He is a very brave boy," Nicola, who lost her brother Anthony to leukaemia in 2002 when he was four, said.
Due to Covid-19, Chris was restricted from being with Nicola when doctors broke the news and was unable to visit Dean on his ward.
The couple have struggled financially with both out of work looking after Dean and his baby brother Ollie.
"It is still tough now. Even though we're on universal credit it doesn't help," Nicola said.
But thanks to a fundraising effort led by Nicola Papworth and her daughter Amber, the family are about to enjoy their first holiday together - to Clacton-on-Sea.
They also hope a party can be held for Dean when he gets the all-clear. Nicola said his chances of survival have been put at 85 per cent.
After all the family is going through, Nicola and Chris are keen to raise awareness of their son's cancer.
"If people find their child is going through puberty at a young age, get them looked at," Nicola said.
To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/deans-help