A nine-year-old boy undergoing intense cancer treatment has been boosted by the support of a number of high-profile darts players.
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is among those who have donated shirts which will be auctioned to raise funds for the respite care of Lurgan boy Jack Roycroft who faces a long period of chemotherapy and radiotherapy having had a tumour removed from his kidney before Christmas.
The P5 pupil at King’s Park found out he had cancer just days after his ninth birthday.
His dad Ian, 30, said: “He turned nine on November 16, seven days later we had to tell him he had cancer.”
He explained how the cancer was detected: “For about two weeks or so beforehand he’d complained of a sore side. We’d got him checked for appendicitis.
“His mum has Crohn’s disease (a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system or gut) so more tests were carried out.
“That’s when they found the tumour on his kidney, a stage three Wilms tumour.”
Around 80 children are diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour each year in the UK. They are most common in children under five. They can appear in older children and adults but this is rare.
Mr Roycroft and his fiancee Tracey Gray, 40, were powerless as their son spent nearly 10 hours on the operating table to have the tumour removed.
“It started to expand, ruptured and was sticking to his insides,” said Ian.
“He was on the table for nine or 10 hours trying to get it out of him.
“He somehow found the strength to come through that and now he’s on intensive chemo and radiotherapy for 34 weeks.
“For a while he was in hospital all the time and had very little energy.
“He’s been getting home more regularly and is all smiles now, back to his own wee self.”
His father said his son was a “chip off the old block”, sharing his interest in football, boxing and fishing.
It is through another sport – darts – that the Lurgan community has rallied together to raise money to help the young cancer patient.
When The Mechanics Institute darts team found out about Jack’s cancer battle they began a fundraising campaign.
Jamie Serplus explained: “Previously we have had a 24-hour darts marathon for breast cancer and a tournament for a young girl with neuroblastoma.
“We never have to look far for something that has touched the local area and this has been the case with Jack.”
Their fundraising efforts involve a tournament which takes place on February 18 as well as signed shirts for auction from Lakeside world champion and current World Master Glen Durrant, local PDC Star Daryl Gurney and 16-times world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, who has announced his retirement following the 2018 World Championships.
The team have also set up a justgiving page for Jack. You can donate here
Ian said: “I didn’t know anything about the money being raised. The treatment is all covered, but this will be so important to get him the stuff he needs that isn’t covered to make life easier for him at home.”