A 21-YEAR-old hockey club player due to have his leg amputated from above the knee next month has launched a massive community fundraising drive to buy a prosthetic limb so he can make a return to sport he loves.
Courageous Ben Rawson, who lives in St Asaph, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma earlier this year after doctors discovered a 14cm tumour behind his knee.
The former Denbigh High School pupil, who has taken a year out of his computer science studies at Manchester university, felt a lump whilst rubbing the back of his knee last November when making his way back from a hockey game – Ben has played with Denbigh Hockey Club for seven years.
The lump, which was about half the size of a golf ball, prompted Ben to make an appointment with his doctor and a Bakers cyst was diagnosed.
Ben waited seven months for an appointment with the Orthopaedics team at Glan Clwyd, however, the hospital visit revealed the lump was actually a tumour. The student was referred to Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital and two days later, following numerous scans, Ben was told the devastating news that he had a 14cm tumour.
A biopsy confirmed Ewing’s Sarcoma and Ben was dealt a further blow, as doctors discovered that the tumour had wrapped itself around crucial arteries. In order to give him the best chance possible – Ben was told there was no alternative but to amputate his leg.
Ben said: “Prior to feeling the lump I had felt some pain in my knee but nothing awful. At the time of finding the lump I was obviously a little concerned but not for one minute did I consider it to be cancer.
“During my wait for my hospital appointment life went on as normal. I felt fine in myself but as the months ticked by the pain in my knee did get progressively worse, to the point where I would have to come off the hockey pitch occasionally.
“When I was told I had a 14cm tumour I was taken back for sure, but I was still in denial that it could be that bad. It wasn’t until my consultant said there was no hope of keeping my leg that it really hit home. The lump had probably doubled in size since I originally felt it. I was diagnosed late June this year. After diagnosis, things moved extremely quickly and within a few days I was in for my first round of chemotherapy.”
Ben has almost completed six cycles of pre-operative chemotherapy. He has lost his hair, his eyebrows and most of his eyelashes. He is set to have my leg amputated around mid-November this year. He has started a JustGiving page to raise £50,000 in order to help support him after the operation and to help buy the “best prosthetic limb” so he can return to his joy of hockey and university. Already generous supporters have contributed more than £5,000.
Ben, who has a sister called Katie, added: “Mobility in my leg currently is very minimal. I can bend and move it but I’ve been strictly advised to not walk on it as it’s at high risk of a break. I am still undergoing treatment and will be until summer 2018. I have si x rounds of chemotherapy before surgery followed by eight more cycles. I will also undergo radiotherapy next year at some point.
“Reaching my goal would mean the world to me. In terms of returning to sports and running, there are blades available but these cost roughly £50,000. This is where the donations become very important to me. I couldn’t believe the response I got [on JustGiving] within the first couple of days. It’s pretty incredible to see the generosity of some people, and even some strangers. Some of the messages people left really put a smile on my face and made me realise I’m not going through this alone.”
“I’ve lost virtually all independence at the moment, living back at home, not being able to drive. Returning to hockey would be wonderful. I still try to go and support my team on the weekend but being able to get back on the pitch with them would be the best.”
To donate to Ben, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ben-rawson