A ONE-YEAR-OLD cancer sufferer could become the youngest person in British history to undergo a ground-breaking treatment.
But little Ruddi Waterworth-Jones’s future is in the hands of a panel of experts who will decide if he should be sent to the United States for expensive proton therapy.
Ruddi, of Dale View in Longwood, is already the youngest person on record to have been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue on the prostate.
He had to have an operation last month to remove his bladder and prostate.
Now he will set another record if his family is given the go-ahead to take him to Boston for an intensive seven-week course of advanced proton radiotherapy.
The treatment, not currently available in Britain, costs thousands of pounds.
Mum Ali, 38 – who is currently out of work as she looks after Ruddi full-time – said: “My baby’s life is in their hands. There has never been a child so young to have this condition, so there’s nothing to compare him to.
“They have to decide if Ruddi’s life will be dramatically improved by it in the future, which of course it would be.
“But because of the amount of money involved it’s a massive decision and we’ve been told it’s 50-50.
“We can’t afford to pay to go, so we have to wait for the panel to approve the money.”
Ruddi had been a perfectly healthy baby before he started to experience problems going to the toilet when he was seven months old.
His GP treated him for constipation, teething problems and even asthma before Ali decided to take him to hospital.
Since diagnosis, he has been having bouts of chemotherapy and underwent surgery at St James’ Hospital in Leeds on September 16 to have his bladder and prostate removed.
Ruddi is now permanently attached to a urostomy bag to empty his body of urine.
Surgeons will look to reconstruct his bladder in years to come, but that would be Ruddi’s decision. He will never be able to father children naturally.
The tumour on his prostate was successfully removed in the operation, but doctors still have concerns about two areas near his bowel where the cancer has a higher risk of returning.
He could have standard radiotherapy, but that would affect the growth of his pelvis and his ability to walk.
Proton therapy is a more advanced type of particle therapy which uses a pinpoint beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue.
If the money is approved in two weeks time, Ruddi will have to go to Boston for a scan of the affected area, before the family returns to the UK for the results.
They would then fly back out for a course of therapy five days a week for seven weeks – meaning they would spend Christmas in the States.
Flights and accommodation would be paid for, but the family would have to pay for insurance to meet the costs of living while they were there.
Ali, whose daughter Jade is due to give birth in November, would also miss the vital first few weeks of the life of her first grandchild.
She said: “I never thought it would come to this, but if Ruddi’s life depends on it I will make it happen.
“If they say no he will just have normal radiotherapy and face the consequences in a few years time, but that is not an option I want to look at.
“He’s such a good kid – he’s crawling again and is really happy. It’s just awful what he has had to go through.”
Ali paid tribute to friends and family who raised £8,000 through a campaign called Rooting 4 Ruddi. As well as paying for a pram for Ruddi, some of the money went to the Sick Children’s Trust, Candlelighters children’s cancer charity and ward 10 at St James’s Hospital, where he has been treated.
“Everyone has been so generous, I can’t thank people enough,” Ali said.