The family of an 11-year-old with an inoperable brain tumour are preparing for their last Christmas together after he was given six months to live — just two weeks ago.
Reece Probert seemed perfectly healthy just last month, but his mum Jenna, 31, took him to the doctors when he suddenly developed a limp and then a slur.
Scans revealed he had a rare aggressive inoperable brain tumour which doctors, and sufferers usually succumb to between six and 12 months after diagnosis.
His devastated family are rallying around to give him the best Christmas ever.
Jenna from Wombourne, south Staffordshire, said: “It will be our last Christmas together and we want to make sure it’s nice and comfortable and cosy for Reece.
“I want to make him feel like a king. He should feel like the most important person in the world.
“It will be emotional because it will be his last Christmas.
“We will decorate the whole house and make it look like Santa’s grotto. It will be the most memorable Christmas ever.
“Reece knows he has cancer but doesn’t know the reality of it. I can’t face telling him. I just need him to be happy.
“Christmas will be a family day and we will give him anything he wants.
“We will just cherish it together as a family.”
Just six weeks ago Reece was fit and healthy, but after returning from a trip to see his grandparents in Northern Ireland in November his mum noticed unusual symptoms.
He had a limp and a sore hand, so his GP sent him to A&E for an x-ray, and for tests on his tendons.
But Jenna really began to worry when Reece began to slur his words two weeks ago.
A neighbour – who had been diagnosed a benign brain tumour – noticed Reece struggling to speak and feared the worst, having suffered similar symptoms in the past.
Personal trainer Jenna phoned 111 and was advised to take Reece to the Russell’s Hall Hospital, in Dudley, where doctors initially thought he had suffered a stroke.
But on December 1, when doctors at Birmingham Children’s Hospital performed a CT scan and found an “abnormality” the the brain.
Two days later Jenna was told her son had diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – an aggressive cancer typically found in children.
She said: “I collapsed when I was told that. I felt like my heart had been ripped out.
“It was a horrible feeling. They put him on steroids to reduce the swelling before he had the MRI scan.
“It was bad enough being told he had a stroke. I was just praying that they had got it all wrong.
“I just started screaming ‘no, no, no’. I couldn’t breathe. It’s the worst thing any mum can be told.
“Even the oncologist has tears in her eyes whilst she was telling me.
“We were taken into the family room and told that chemotherapy won’t work and radiotherapy will only shrink the tumour.
“But it will come back and will eventually end his life.
“Most children die between six and 12 months from diagnosis.”
Reece is due to start his first round of radiotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour and give him more time.
Jenna is now focused on making sure Reece has the most “amazing Christmas” with her, partner Robert Perry, 27, and his sister Trinity Alcock, six.
Tearful Jenna said: “I’ve had to put the reality of it to the back of my mind.
“I’m just focused on enjoying him whilst we still have him.
“We want to make memories with him and just want to make sure he is happy and comfortable.
“Reece has been fantastic. He has taken it all in his stride and has been amazing. I couldn’t be more proud of him.
“He is known as the class clown and his friends have been to visit him.
“For us the next year is all about making him feel extra special.”
Friends and family have launched fundraising campaigns and arranged charity events in a bid to raise money to ensure Reece has a Christmas to remember.
So far £5,000 has been raised on GoFundMe.
Jenna wants to decorate the whole house like a grotto and create a magical home for the family to spend an emotional Christmas at.
To visit the GoFundMe page in aid of Reece, visit www.gofundme.com/reeces-wishes.