Raising vital funds for life saving research into primary bone cancer.
Anthony will always be remembered for his sense of humour, his strength and his courage." - Gill, Anthony's mum
I am so proud to have been the mother of such a special young man. Although I am not a religious person, I really do thank God for letting me be Anthony's mother. My ex-husband and I adopted our daughter Katie when she was a year old as we had been told, after 10 years of trying, that it was extremely unlikely that we would have any children of our own. Less than two years later, I gave birth to Anthony. He really was a gift!
Anthony was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on 4th April 2001, aged 14. We had never heard of osteosarcoma, and since Anthony’s diagnosis, have discovered that most people have never heard of it until someone they know is diagnosed with this terrible bone cancer. Anthony’s first thought, once he had got over the shock of the diagnosis, was to raise money for research, in the hope that he might be able to save other people going through what he was going to have to endure.
Although Anthony was very ill during all of the chemotherapy cycles he still kept his sense of humour. As soon as he started chemotherapy, he asked people to sponsor him to have his head shaved. His friends at the Lewes Old Grammar School wanted to do their bit to help, so they arranged a rock concert called Fish Aid (Fish was Anthony’s nickname at school). In December 2001 Anthony handed over a cheque for £3000 to Cancer Research from everyone's efforts. Anthony had lots of other fundraising ideas and wanted to continue to raise money once his treatment was completed, but unfortunately he was never able to do so.
Anthony had the tumour removed from his leg in June 2001. That eventually resulted in him spending most of his time in a wheelchair, as he could not bend his leg, and wasn't strong enough to walk on crutches or with a frame. In April 2002, we discovered that the cancer had spread to Anthony's lungs, and he started treatment again. On 8th July we were told that the treatment was not working, and that we should stop the drugs, so that Anthony would feel better for a while. We had a week at Futuroscope theme park in France at the end of August/beginning of September. Futuroscope is mainly cinemas, so Anthony was able to enjoy most of the attractions from his wheelchair. The memories of that holiday will stay with me forever.
At the end of September, Anthony and I went to Birmingham for the weekend to attend Games Day at the Indoor Arena. This event is organised every year by Games Workshop and Anthony had been for the two previous years. The warhammer models gave Anthony a lot of pleasure, as he was able to make and paint them from both his bed and his chair. We had a wonderful weekend and Anthony bought more things for his collection.
Just over a week after that trip, Anthony died, aged 15. It was 8th October, exactly three months after the doctors had told us that he was terminally ill. The funeral was held a week later on 15th October and was attended by over 200 people. It sounds a silly thing to say, but the funeral was a lovely occasion. It showed me just how many people Anthony had touched during his short life.
Anthony will always be remembered for his sense of humour, his strength and his courage. He tackled every new problem without any self-pity and even managed to give me the strength I needed to care for him. Over the last few months of his life, Anthony had been seeing a spiritual healer. It was something that he had asked to do, and he saw her every week, with the exception of the week we were in France. He never expected her to perform any miracles, but, no matter how he felt, he always insisted on seeing her and was always happier when he had been to her. He gained a lot from Linda, and I am sure that her input helped him to deal with his death in the calm and peaceful way that he did.
Anthony became poorly on the Sunday and was worse on the Monday. During Monday night he could not sleep but was not really awake either. He was lying in his bed and I was sitting at his side, when he said to me "I am sitting on that chair over there and watching us". He went on to say, "there is a lady here, but I don't know who she is". At that point I think I realised that he was about to die. But because he was so calm, I remained calm too, and just sat there holding his hand. A couple of minutes later he said, "I can't do this anymore". I asked him what he meant, and he replied, "any of it". I told him to close his eyes and go to sleep. He took two more breaths and said "bye", then stopped breathing. Throughout that night, he had remained calm, peaceful and showed no fear of what he must have realised was happening to him. He was such an amazing child, to be able to cope with everything that he did without any fear, and keeping his sense of humour throughout.
Knowing that Anthony was going to die was obviously very difficult to cope with, but the time we had was so precious to both of us. As soon as Anthony was diagnosed, I stopped work and spent all of my time caring for him and his sister Katie, who has learning difficulties. It was a very difficult 18 months, but also a wonderful time, because I had the time to really develop the relationship between us. I obviously wish that the outcome had been different, and would have done anything to change it, but I will always be grateful for those 18 months that I had with Anthony. I gained so much from the relationship we developed over that time, and I am sure he did as well.
We gained strength from each other, and that is what is keeping me going through the very difficult time that I face now.
Since Anthony passed away, not only has Fish Aid continued, but Anthony’s family decided that more had to be done in the fight against primary bone cancer. Along with a group of other families, they helped to found the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
To read more about Anthony’s fund, please visit: apbct.org.uk
Text BCRT ANTHONY to 70800 to donate £5
*Text donation costs the donation amount + standard network rate. The Anthony Pilcher Bone Cancer Trust will receive 100% of your donation.
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