A FOUR-YEAR-OLD cancer battler has taken a huge step towards beating his disease after fundraisers reached the £250,000 target to send him to America for life-saving treatment.
Brave neuroblastoma sufferer Sam Shaw has captured the hearts of people across East Lancashire as his family and friends raced against the clock to raise the money so he can receive immunotherapy treatment.
Now he will be able to travel to Philadelphia for the therapy which will boost his immune system and help his body fight off cancer cells.
The procedure, which is not available on the NHS, will boost his chances of survival by 20 per cent.
Yesterday Sam’s delighted mum Christine said reaching the target, in a campaign supported by the Lancashire Telegraph, was a huge milestone but added: “Sam’s battle is not over yet.”
The youngster, of Glencoe Avenue, Hoddlesden, is currently in hospital and set to undergo three weeks of radiotherapy next month.
Once he finished that stage of treatment he has until October 31 to start the immunotherapy to allow it to work.
Sam was diagnosed in January and mum and dad, Christine and Carl, were told his best chance of survival was the specialist treatment.
An appeal was launched in March to raise the £250,000 needed, which saw fundraising events all over the UK.
Mrs Shaw has urged people not to stop supporting the appeal despite reaching the target, as further funds may be required if there are complications with the treatment in the US.
She said: “We are so grateful to everyone who has donated. The response to our appeal has been unbelievable.
“In particular, everyone at Barnabas House Nursery has been great, and Tony Montague and The Victoria pub in Darwen raised a great deal recently with a truck pull in Sudell Road.
“But we would urge anyone who was thinking of donating to charity to carry on supporting us.
“We still need extra funds in case Sam needs any further treatment and of course any surplus will stay with the charity.”
Supporters of the Sam Shaw Appeal have expressed their delight at the news the money has been raised.
Former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Mark Patterson put together a team of former professional footballers from across Lancashire to take on a team of AFC Darwen ‘legends’ at the town’s Anchor Ground in May.
Mr Patterson said: “The way the town and, to be fair, a lot of people from out of town have pulled together has been outstanding.
“What we have achieved, to raise so much money in such a short space of time, is fantastic.
“It just goes to show when there is a worthy cause people will all pull together.
“This has made me very proud to be a Darrener and hopefully now Sam will be able to enjoy a better life.”
Colne businessman, TV personality and owner of the Bank of Dave, David Fishwick, has donated to the appeal a few times over the past few months.
He said: “When I met Sam it really put things in perspective.
“He was such a lovely little lad and it just showed that sometimes in life, things just aren’t fair.
“It is fantastic they have raised the money but the most important thing is that Sam gets cured.
“That would be the most wonderful thing in the world.
“But if for some reason they do need more money in the future, I will be more than happy to donate again.”
Christine, who has been living in the hospital for the past few weeks while husband Carl continues to work at Walkersteel in Blackburn, said Sam had become very ill as he received the latest bout of treatment, when he had his stem cells harvested and replaced, in the last few weeks.
She said: “Sam’s blood cultures came back to show he had veno occlusive disease (VOD).
“He is staying strong and soldiering on even though his tummy is continuing to swell and is distorted out of all recognition with the fluid retention.
“But the doctors keep telling us they are happy with him and we are staying positive.
“Sam is our little soldier and he just keeps on fighting.”