Below his mum, Hayley, tells his story.

Harris had no symptoms prior to his diagnosis, other than his hips were out of line, with his right hip being higher than his left. Other than that, he had no symptoms.

He seemed like a perfectly healthy little boy.

A couple of weeks after I first noticed his hips were out of line, we took him to see a chiropractor. The chiropractor refused to treat him and told us that Harris needed an x-ray, so we took him to a walk-in x-ray centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. We got there just before it closed, and I begged them to take an x-ray as we were driving down to Portsmouth later that day.

They took the x-ray; we were told everything looked normal and we set off on our journey.

The next morning, I had five missed calls on my phone from the hospital before 7:30am. When I called back, I was told I had to bring Harris back to the hospital that day. I also spoke to my GP, who told me that Harris had cancer.

After a frantic drive from Portsmouth to Oxford we arrived at the hospital and Harris was taken off to see a play specialist. My ex-husband was waiting for us at the hospital, and we met with doctors who told us that Harris had a bone tumour at the top of his thigh bone (proximal femur) and would need a biopsy to confirm this.

At this point, we did not tell Harris he had cancer, but just that he had something wrong with him.

Harris had an open biopsy two weeks later, when the doctors made a large cut in his hip to take a sample of the tumour. He was in hospital for two/three days following the biopsy and left the hospital on crutches.

About two weeks after that we received the results of the biopsy and Harris was diagnosed with grade one chondrosarcoma. We were given the option of no surgery and monitoring the tumour, or having an operation to remove the tumour and reconstruct Harris' leg. We decided to have the surgery.

At the pre-op appointment, Harris' surgeon explained what they were going to do. They planned to remove part of Harris' pelvis and thigh bone and replace it with bone from his lower right leg (fibula) which would be held in place with metal plates and pins.

The surgeon told us that Harris was the only patient in the UK to have this surgery.

The operation took 16 hours and when Harris came out of surgery they kept him in a medically induced coma for another four hours, so it was after midnight and 20 hours after he first went into surgery that I was able to see him. It was such a long day.

Harris was kept in intensive care for a week and then moved onto another ward for three weeks before he could come home. He had his lower right leg in a cast, from where the bone had been removed, and a body brace which covered his torso and both legs to hold his hip in place. He had to wear the body brace for four/five months, 24 hours a day. We were only able to take the brace off to give Harris' body a quick wash, and he was not allowed to move whilst we did this.

We were not sure if Harris would be able to walk after his surgery and were told that he would never play sports again. We had to adjust to a whole new way of life and make a lot of adaptations at home.

Harris was bedridden for months and we had to move his bed downstairs. He also needed help going to the toilet and getting dressed.

The bone that has been used to reconstruct Harris' leg was only thin and we were told there was a risk it could snap. This happened in November 2022 only a month or so after his surgery at the end of September.

He turned in bed and the bone snapped. Harris then had to spend another two weeks in hospital in traction. He then came home to recover all over again.

The brace had fixed Harris' leg in a position that, when he was standing naturally, his leg turned outward. We had to go back to hospital again to have this corrected.

In April 2023, Harris had more surgery, during which the surgeon broke and rotated Harris' bone and replaced the main pin.

Harris' left leg is growing faster than his right leg (the leg that has been operated on) and there is currently a three-centimetre difference in the leg lengths. To correct this, the surgeon has talked about taking some bone from Harris' left leg to use on his right leg, which Harris does not want.

Our other options include using a hormone to slow the growth in his left leg or extending his shorter leg using pins and an external frame. We are yet to decide how this will be managed and he currently wears a wedge in his right shoe and a wedge added to the outside of his shoe to correct the difference.

Harris will need another surgery soon to replace a pin which is wearing thin, and he will need ongoing operations for the rest of his life.

He swims twice a week to build up muscle strength in his right leg. He is currently having follow up appointments every three months, but these will change to six monthly after two years, and then yearly after four years until he is 21 years old.

Harris has made an exceptional recovery, and I am so proud of the way he has dealt with everything. He has had to learn to walk again, but he can walk, albeit with a slight limp due to the difference in leg lengths.

Despite what we were told originally, he has been able to take part in his PE lessons at school (with some adaptations). He still uses crutches at school and when he is out and about, but not at home.

He has been unable to play football with his friends like he used to, and his confidence has been knocked.

My message to other parents whose child is facing a bone cancer diagnosis is just to take each day as it comes. Awareness is so important. The sooner the cancer is caught, the less chance there is of it spreading.

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