On 29 April 2019 five-year-old Harry Shaw was given 1 week to live after a 9 month battle against Ewing’s Sarcoma; a rare bone cancer. Despite this terminal diagnosis he's still fighting to stay alive.
Harry’s parents, Charlotte and James, set up Harry’s Giant Pledge working with giantpledge.com and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Their aim is to raise money for research into Ewing’s Sarcoma and other childhood cancers to ensure children like Harry have a better chance of surviving.
Harry was diagnosed with cancer on 2 August 2018 when a routine scan on a small lump showed a tumour the size of a large baked potato inside Harry’s right chest. Harry was 4.
In the space of a few minutes on that hot sunny afternoon the Shaw Family's life was changed forever.
Harry started chemotherapy at University College London Hospital at 1145 on 17 August 2018. We knew it was going to be tough but the expectation was it was treatable.
Harry had four months of strong chemotherapy which he largely charged through. Totally unfazed by his immediate hair loss he regularly attended school where he adored playing with his friends. January 2019 saw us at the Royal Brompton for chest surgery to remove the tumour and yet again Harry blew us away with his determination in recovery. Up to this point we were upbeat and even started to plan life after his cancer treatment; not in a million years did we imagine this would be without Harry.
News from this point started to go against us at every opportunity and eventually we had to accept Harry would die.
And who is Harry? And we write ‘is’ because right now it’s impossible to think our beautiful little boy could be ‘was’. Harry simply loves life. He’s cheeky, naughty but also a lovely polite little boy. Harry is at his happiest when by the sea building sandcastles, searching for shells or paddling in the freezing water! He’s a fit, strong lion of a boy who loves school, playing with his friends and running around getting up to mischief.
Losing Harry means our happy family unit of 4 now becomes 3. We lose our firstborn child; our 2 year old daughter Georgia loses her brother who she will probably never remember; and the wider family lose their first grandchild and nephew.
As a parent it is hard to convey all the feelings and emotions you are hit with when you go through this terrible thing. Disbelief, despair and despondent are but three, but the actual feeling is every emotion hitting you all at once in a giant train crash in your heart.
We would like to say Harry will die in peace and comfort; to an extent he will, dying at home in his own bed surrounded by his toys and the people he loves. But the actual truth is the last few weeks of Harry’s life have been marked by terrible pain and suffering that no human, not least a 5 year-old boy, should endure. As parents, to sit and have to watch your child die slowly in pain and discomfort is a memory we hope time will heal.
We can't let Harry die without doing something to try and ensure other little Harry’s don’t go through the same thing. One of Harry’s favourite expressions during chemotherapy was: ‘Let’s just get it done’.
In honour of Harry ‘let’s just get it done’ spirit let's raise some money to beat this awful disease and give future children and their families hope.
Thank you. Love Charlotte, James and Harry x