Angus was diagnosed with cancer as a tiny baby. He was amazingly brave throughout his chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but sadly the treatment was not enough. Here, his mum Eileen tells his story...
Our beautiful son was born on March 21 2005. Our first baby. A joyous, miraculous beauty. A shock to the system, in the way that only a first baby can be. We were parents of a gorgeous little boy who arrived like a superhero and changed everything. We called him Angus. We were so happy, we didn't know how happy we were until everything began to unravel.
His left eye, which didn't seem to be quite working properly, began to suggest an infection. He certainly couldn't open his eye and subsequent treatment with iv antibiotics seemed the right course of action. By the time we left hospital to go home for the first time, a week after he was born, we had already felt, and thought we understood, the terrifying invasiveness of medical procedures administered to your tiny new baby. Little did we know.
The following days and weeks were both totally normal and completely surreal. Normal new baby struggles and sleeplessness combined with nagging suspicions that all was not well with Angus's left eye. Doctors' appointments, referrals, surgery, awful times interspersed with ordinary beautiful moments. New Daddy with his little son in his arms, both asleep. Getting the hang of breastfeeding. First smiles.
By the time he was six and a half weeks old, our amazing little boy was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma of the left orbit. A massive visible tumour, completely occluding his left eye. We could almost see it growing in front of our eyes.
So, his treatment began. Barbaric and invasive. Biopsies, multiple scans, chemotherapy, surgeries, more chemotherapy. We tried to live a normal life, like the doctors and nurses told us, but it was very hard to know what that should be. We were such new parents. Throughout all these tough times, Angus amazed us and everyone around him. He grew, he hit all his developmental milestones, laughing, smiling, talking, walking. Sitting, standing, rolling over, holding up his head, weaning, pulling up, cruising round the furniture, commando crawling, smiling, smiling, feeding, smiling, feeding, making us all ache with love for this boy.
Treatment finished and we tried to adjust to this new reality. Booked a holiday. Found another, new lump on the day we flew to Spain. We knew that this meant relapse, so we decided that the most important thing for our little family, was to have this holiday while we were able.
We returned home, by now Angus was almost 18 months old, and a curious, clever, funny wee boy. Radiotherapy, which absolutely shatters grown ups, seemed to be, at worst, an inconvenience to Angus. Running around the old Beatson Oncology Unit at the Western in Glasgow. He continued to surprise and delight us, being well against all the odds, staying out of hospital much of the time, giving us precious time together. A strong, cheeky, gorgeous little man. Who loved doors.
He began to falter a little, around his second birthday. Still running around, even when the bones in his femur and spine began to break due to the spread of his disease. Bravery and strength beyond comprehension. He died six weeks after his second birthday, on May 1st 2007. A beautiful day. An awful day.
The treatment for this terrible disease is brutal. Really brutal. The prognosis for alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is usually very poor. We would love this to change, for all the other little soldiers, so that they can have more time to run and laugh and bang doors and frighten the fish.
So, in memory of the most beautiful boy, Angus Adam Simpson, we've established this fund at CCLG, dedicated to raising money for research into rhabdomyosarcoma.
Make a donation to Angus's Door
Open an online fundraising page for Angus' Door
Set up a regular Direct Debit donation to Angus's Door
You can make a donation or pay in funds raised by cheque, payable to CCLG, to CCLG, Century House, 24 De Montfort Street, Leicester LE1 7GB. Please ensure you make it clear that the donation is for Angus's Door so that your donation is allocated to the correct fund.