In November 2021 when Kaiden was just six years old, he started suffering from head pain, nausea and double vision. His GP initially diagnosed migraines, but as his symptoms continued, in May 2022 Kaiden was referred to Wycombe Hospital for an MRI scan. Within 48 hours, his Mum Kathryn received a call to say that they had found a mass in his brain.
Kaiden was immediately transferred to John Radcliffe Hospital for further MRI scans and an urgent operation to fully remove a brain tumour called a medulloblastoma.
After his initial recovery, the plan was for Kaiden to start Proton Beam Therapy at University College London Hospital (UCLH) to ensure the removal of all cancerous cells. However this was delayed for four weeks following an infection which saw Kaiden rushed back into hospital for treatment and to drain fluid from his head.
In September 2022, Kaiden along with his Mum, Dad and two youngest siblings moved to London to start daily proton beam therapy under general anaesthetic at UCLH.
Mum Kathryn said, “It was during our daily visits to UCLH that we met Spread a Smile. The team were visiting with Buddy, one of their Therapy Dogs. Kaiden was in recovery from general anaesthetic and wasn’t particularly bothered about seeing anyone. However, within a couple of minutes of meeting Buddy, he was sitting up in bed, stroking and playing with Buddy and giving him treats. Kaiden’s recovery from anaesthetic was super quick that day! He just wanted to get up and absolutely loved being with Buddy. It was wonderful for me to see Kaiden happy and enjoying something different. When you spend so long in hospital, anything that breaks the monotony is a treat.”
Whilst Kaiden and his family were in London, Spread a Smile invited the family along for an outing to see The Lion King on stage in the West End.
“Because Kaiden was under general anaesthetic so often, our days in hospital were long as he was often asleep or in recovery when people came to visit. Being able to go to the theatre as a family for such an amazing day was incredible and an experience we will never forget. The trip coincided with Kaiden’s proton beam therapy coming to an end and in the lead up to starting chemotherapy. It was wonderful to have something special to do and it was a magical day.”
Kaiden started chemotherapy at the end of 2022, meaning he had to stay at home in between cycles to help protect his immune system. It was at this point that the family discovered Spread a Smile’s virtual sessions.
“Spread a Smile’s online sessions have literally been a lifeline for Kaiden. He looks forward to them every day taking part in as many as possible from Magic with Makaton to singing, art and cupcake decorating. He often does two a day! Even when he missed the cupcake session due to an operation, we took the kit Spread a Smile sent us into hospital and once he had recovered Kaiden spent a lovely couple of hours decorating the cakes. It was a great distraction for him.
“As a parent, Spread a Smile means the world. Kaiden can’t go to school or see his friends and not being able to go anywhere is tough for him. But through their online sessions, Kaiden has made friends. He chats to people, engages with them, laughs and can just be Kaiden again. It’s lovely to see and I don’t know what we’d do without them.”
As Kaiden himself said: “Spread a Smile do what they say – they make me smile every day!”
Please help ensure we can continue to support children like Kaiden and their families by donating today. Thank you.