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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jennifer Hyland & Joe Smith

Little boy, 4, with rare cancer desperately needs £250,000 for American drug trial

The family of a four-year-old boy with a rare cancer are battling to raise money to send him to America for a drug trial that could prolong his life.

Now Calum Rae’s only chance could be an experimental vaccine costing £250,000 which could help his body fight off the rare aggressive neuroblastoma cancer he was diagnosed with.

Mum Victoria McDonald said her tot was diagnosed after catching chicken pox in January. When symptoms persisted his GP said it was a post-viral infection linked to shingles.

As his condition worsened he was referred for an MRI scan which revealed a tumour in his adrenal gland, close to the spinal cord and tests revealed he had Neuroblastoma.

The nightmare diagnosis has a five-year survival rate of around only 50 per cent.

Little Calum was first diagnosed with the rare cancer after chickenpox symptoms failed to clear up (Victoria MacDonald / SWNS)

Victoria and Andrew are hoping that the experimental vaccine treatment will give them more time with their son, the Daily Record reports.

Andrew, 35, from Troon, Ayrshire said: “We have to be strong, we have to keep fighting for Calum and we are doing everything we can to help save our little boy. We just need some help.”

Calum, who was diagnosed in March, has already endured seven gruelling cycles of chemotherapy and still faces a stem cell transplant and four weeks of radiotherapy.

If he’s then given the all-clear, a vaccine trial in New York is the family’s only hope of stopping the disease from returning.

His parents are raising £250,000 for treatment in New York (Victoria MacDonald / SWNS)

Victoria, 33, said: “When they told us Calum had cancer, we just crumbled. Our whole world just stopped.

“The first thing that goes through your head is, ‘is he going to die? He’s only four. Are we going to lose our boy?’

“It was total panic. Seeing him, you just wish it wasn’t real. There are times I just sit and cry and pray it’s been a mistake but this is our reality.”

The little boy was yesterday admitted to Kilmarnock’s Crosshouse hospital after his temperature spiked and he is being treated with antibiotics and steroids.

Calum Rae with mother Victoria MacDonald, father Andrew Rae and sister Emily (Victoria MacDonald / SWNS)

The US drugs trial is being run at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre and the vaccine helps train the immune system to identify and destroy neuroblastoma cells.

The treatment costs around £250,000 and will involve seven trips to New York in a year. The family have already managed to raise more than £60,000 themselves.

Victoria has already gone through losing her mum Bridget to leukaemia when she was just eight years old.

She said: “I think of the pain she must have felt but had to carry on and it’s similar to how I feel with Calum.

Calum has had five cycles of chemo since he was diagnosed on March 1 - and in that time has learnt to ride a bike (Victoria MacDonald / SWNS)

“I just want to curl up and cry that this is happening to him but it won’t change it and it won’t help him.

“From what happened with my mum, I know the pain of loss. I know what it’s been like without her and I can’t bear to think I’ll have to go through life without Calum.

Recalling the moment they got the news every parent dreads, Victoria said: “He had chicken pox first and hadn’t gotten any better. His body was still really sore.

“The GP who initially thought it was a side effect of shingles from having chickenpox.

“But a few weeks later he started getting really high temperatures and night sweats so we referred to the hospital and they found the tumour.”

Calum's mum said he is determined to see through his treatment (Victoria MacDonald / SWNS)

His parents, who also have a five-month-old daughter Emily, were told Calum’s cancer was stage M – where the disease had spread to other parts of the body.

“That week was horrific as I just kept Googling it and just kept crying. I read about the survival rate but Andy didn’t want to know anything yet so I kept it to myself.

“Over the next few days, I had to tell him what I’d read and it was horrible.”

After Calum finishes his final cycle of treatment at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth hospital, doctors will decide on surgery to remove the tumour and only then could he be considered for the trial and fly to America.

Calum had chickenpox in January and when symptoms persisted his GP said it was a post-viral infection linked to shingles (Victoria MacDonald / SWNS)

Victoria said: “Before he was ill Calum was just a happy, normal little boy. He loved being with his family, playing with his friends, he liked football and soft play. He was always playing and giggling.

“He’s very strong-willed and determined and the nurses say that will stand him in good stead as he goes through this. He isn’t going to just take this, he is going to give this a good go.”

Thousands of pounds have already been raised for Calum. To donate to the fundraising campaign for Calum, visit

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