Gravely ill leukaemia boy now cancer free after having radical T-cell therapy

Same pose, same couch… but, boy, what a difference three years makes for brave Josh Nicholson.

In the summer of 2018 he lay stricken with what was feared to be terminal leukaemia, a cuddly toy nestled beside him.

Fast forward to picture number two and cancer-free Josh smiles, with pet cavapoo puppy Coco in close attendance.

The lifesaver for 11-year-old Josh was radical CAR T-cell therapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London.

His mum Vicky, 41, a primary school teacher, says: “It really is a miracle and we can’t thank the doctors and scientists enough for saving our son.



The 11-year-old is now cancer free
The 11-year-old is now cancer free

“Josh has gone through so much and came close, so many times, to not being with us any more. But each time he just kept coming back from the worst scenario. And he’s never once moaned.”

His ordeal began in 2014 – two years after dad Matt beat testicular cancer.

Vicky, of Solihull, West Mids, recalls: “During the summer holidays he became lethargic, with unexplained bruises on his legs. When doctors diagnosed leukaemia we were stunned.

“That was the first of many nights we spent sobbing by his bedside.”

Treatment included three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy, total body radiation, a stem cell transplant from his baby brother, Luke – now aged five – and the removal of his right eye.

Vicky explains: “He was so poorly after the transplant that he was on a ventilator for two weeks. Doctors said it was the most dramatic turn-around they’d ever seen.



Joshua with his Parents Vicky and Matt
Joshua with his Parents Vicky and Matt

“We were all in tears to see him ring the ‘end of treatment’ bell at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in September 2017.”

Sadly, the euphoria didn’t last. Within six months Josh had relapsed.

With no further treatments available, doctors could only offer palliative care.

His parents then learned about trials of CAR T-cell therapy – a form of immunotherapy – at GOSH and Josh had the treatment in March 2019.

The chances of reaching two years cancer free was less than 50%. But he has made it.

Vicky goes on: “We were nervous wrecks waiting for the test results. Receiving that call was a dream come true. Seeing him start secondary school was such a magical moment. He’s happy, healthy and has formed such a close bond with Coco.”

Josh will continue to be monitored and have annual check-ups.

Matt, 47, a roofer, says: “We’re just looking forward to Josh doing all the things he’s missed out on.

“Top of his ‘to-do list’ is ‘going on a rollercoaster. He can’t wait for theme parks to reopen.

“We never dared to dream we’d reach this point. We would love Josh’s story to show other families that there is always hope. Miracles do happen.”

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