At 19 years old Chris was unable to have what would be considered a normal teenage lifestyle, due to troubling family circumstances Chris was no longer able to live with his family and found himself homeless. Despite his desperate situation Chris’s sole concern were his two younger brothers whom he had left behind. With his brothers in mind he sought help from his local council and managed to secure himself his own flat. Now off the streets Chris bravely fought and won legal action to become primary carer for his two younger brothers Carl aged 18 and Clive, 14.
You would think Chris would have had his share of tough times but nothing could have prepared him for what was yet to come.
What with the strains of caring for his two younger brothers and general day to day challenges every adolescent faces it was a while before Chris managed to get to the doctors to have a lump on the side of his neck looked at. Unbeknown to Chris this lump was far more serious that he had first realised and after a number of tests and swift response from the doctors involved Chris was told he had cancer.
He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a type of cancer that affects the Lymphatic System. The doctors explained that it was one of the least aggressive forms of cancer and 80% of people are cured with their first treatment….how wrong they would be proved.
Leaving his brothers at home to fend for themselves, Chris was admitted to hospital and began his battle with cancer receiving treatment including chemotherapy and also a stem cell transplant. After some intensive and painful treatment things started to look better and February of 2005 Chris actually went into remission.
8 weeks later however the cancer had returned, not only was it back, the cancer had spread and was ravaging through Chris’s body. His treatment became even more rigorous, Chris received several different types of chemo regimes, radiotherapy and also a drug trial involving anti bodies and two bone marrow transplants. Losing his hair many times and going into remission 3 times in total. Then the doctors told him the words he had always been dreading hearing, “I’m sorry but unfortunately you are terminally ill and there is nothing more we can do.”
Being a true fighter however, Chris refused to accept this was it and insisted that he and the doctors kept fighting. His treatment continued and with Chris’s persistent attitude he continued to keep the cancer at bay.
A year into his treatment came a devastating bombshell no one was prepared for, Chris’s brother Carl now aged 19 was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was exactly the same type of cancer as Chris, it was the same form and even found in the same places as Chris. All the doctors were as dumbfounded as Carl and Chris, Hodgkin’s is not supposed to be hereditary and the doctors had never heard of two siblings getting this same type of cancer let alone at the same age.
With both brothers diagnosed as terminal they continued to battled against the cancer, however unfortunately a year later just before his 21st birthday Carl passed away.
Even after losing his younger brother, being repeated told his cancer was terminal and being on the brink in death a number of times Chris refused to quit. After much debating he managed to persuade his doctor to give him one last chance. A stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. In Chris’s condition this treatment was not without great risk. His doctors advised Chris that he would only have a 50-50 percent chance of surviving the actual treatment, a 60-40 percent chance of getting through the first three months after treatment and less that a 5 percent chance of Chris being alive in four years time. With nothing else to lose Chris grabbed at the 5 percent chance and went ahead with the transplant.
That was over five years ago. Chris not only got through the stem cell treatment he fought himself into remission. There were times when his doctors predicted he wouldn’t last the night but his strength of mind never faltered. Chris is today as fit and healthy as ever and needled to say that 5 percent chance has significantly improved. Chris never really did take notice of any of the odds or percentages; and was always determined to get through it.
Chris is now all about living life to the full, not only is he still caring for his youngest brother Clive he is an ambassador for the charity Debbie supported Chris and Carl throughout their journeys and Chris credits Debbie for playing a large part in his recovery. Today Chris is very valued member of the Teens Unite team as a mentor to the teenagers that Teens Unite support. He is an amazing motivational speaker at Teens Unite events, and is continuously looking for ways to help the charity with his time