Together for Sam: Fear of relapse is never far from parents’ mind

Sam Bradley

Sam Bradley

As week two of little Sam Bradley’s radiotherapy treatment enters the midway point the two year old toddler from Belnaleck is starting to feel the effects.

“He is getting very tired and just doesn’t have the same energy. And it can be so frustrating for him because he doesn’t know why he is so tired. He was never really a child for napping during the day so he can get quite upset when he  feels low on energy,” dad Colm explained.


By the end of this week Sam will have ten sessions of radiotherapy over him and will have four remaining.

“We are hoping to get back to Fermanagh for the long weekend. Sam and Jake love being at home in Belnaleck and I think Sam knows that he can’t go to hospital when he is at home in Fermanagh,” Colm said before adding; “He definitely knows when he is going back to Belfast. By the time we hit Clabby he has gone very quiet and he can have a face like thunder sometimes.”

Although Sam’s dad explained that even though he might not like the thoughts of hospital he actually has been very calm with his radiotherapy.

“He thinks the big machine is the flying pinky ponk from one of his favourite cartoons and he never gives out when they are putting him under general anaesthetic which is every day for the radiotherapy. I don’t think adults would be as laid back about GA every day and radiotherapy every day but I suppose it is all very normal to Sam.”

The Bradley family were rocked with the news that Oscar Knox, a four year old from Belfast who has the same type of Cancer as Sam had relapsed recently.

Little Oscar’s family were forced to fundraise for treatment last year and although he got the all clear in April the Cancer has come back and come back in a very aggressive manner.

“It was devastating for us. The Knox’s have been a brilliant support to us and the whole family have been an inspiration. It was very hard news to take and we hope they get all the strength that they need for what lies ahead.”


And Colm revealed that Oscar is not the first child they know that has suffered relapse from neuroblastoma;

“Getting the all clear is always your first goal but neuroblastoma is a brutal cancer and can come back very aggressively. We know a few families who are dealing with it and our hearts go out to them. Any time you see a relapse you naturally think that someday it might be Sam and that is a horrific thought.”

There are limited treatment options in the UK and Ireland open to children who relapse and treatment abroad could be the best chance for saving the child’s life although sometimes the cancer can come back so aggressively that the child can be too sick to travel.

“When it comes back a lot of families will try and get their child abroad in order to get treatment. Every case is different but in order to give your child the best chance of survival parents are often forced to travel and pay for very expensive treatment abroad,” Colm said.

Sam’s dad went on to explain how there is currently a petition aimed at changing the UK government’s policy to neuroblastoma patients with the aim that the NHS offer more varied treatment in the case of relapse or to pay for treatment abroad.

“The fear of relapse is never far from your mind but you try and prioritise yourself so you concentrate on the current treatment. So far Sam has done really well and we take great comfort in that and we try and stay positive about the future,” Sam’s dad revealed.

On the fundraising front this weekend will see ‘Rock for Sam’ at the Bush Bar on Sunday. There will be an eclectic mix of rock and acoustic music on show with the first band kicking off at 3:00pm. Also on Sunday at 2:00pm a bike rally will take place from the Bush Bar to Sligo and back again with proceeds going to Sam.

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

By Ryan Smith THROUGHOUT my visit to the Bradley house in Belnaleck this week, eldest son Sam, stopped only...

Sam's mum, Michelle Bradley, recounts a difficult year since the toddler's diagnosis...

Preparations are well underway for Country For Sam which takes place in the next number of weeks.


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA