A three-year-old boy is living out his final days in lockdown as his cancerous brain tumor continues to devastate his young and frail body.
This has led the boy’s heartbroken mother to tell parents to “cherish every moment” as she slowly loses her son.
Little Xander first had bouts of dizziness and vomiting in June 2019. His parents Jo and Matt Deeley first put it down to an ear infection but subsequent tests revealed he had an aggressive brain tumor. Despite aggressive treatment and three major operations, the cancer has spread and cannot be cured.
Now, the devastated family composed of Jo, 42, an insurance worker, Matt, 38, a dental technician, and daughter Elora, 7, are trying to make whatever memories are left to make while Xander is still around.
Because of his compromised immune system, Xander needs to self-isolate for 12 weeks at their home in Solihull, West Midlands.
Talking about her fears for him during this time of isolation, Jo said: “It does upset me when I see people moaning and groaning about being stuck indoors while the country is in lockdown.
“So many people will come out of this and one day be able to return to their normal lives – but that won’t be the case for us. My child isn’t likely to be here on the other side of all this.
“I just want parents to realize how precious their children are. Yes, they can be testing, but being around them 24/7 while the schools are closed can also be a chance to make memories.
“We have to treasure every moment with our little ones.”
Within this backdrop, sunbathers have continued to defy social distancing guidelines, prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to threaten to ban all outdoor exercise.
In reaction, Jo has pleaded with the public to think of those like Xander whenever they think of going out.
She said: “To see people still going out, sunbathing and having picnics in parks, like nothing has happened, is upsetting.
“I know it’s not everybody, but a handful of people still don’t seem to be taking this seriously.
“I’m sick of hearing people saying that if they got the virus, they would be strong enough to fight it off. It isn’t about us as individuals.
“We’re all in this together, and we need to think about the most vulnerable – people like Xander – and how to protect them.”
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted Xander’s treatments as well as any clinical trials of possible life-saving procedures and drugs. And because Xander’s immune system has been compromised by several rounds of radiotherapy, he needs to remain at home in isolation for 12 weeks.
“In a sense, it’s almost a relief that Matt and I can’t work at the moment because of the virus, as that means we can spend every single day with Xander and Elora, making memories as a family,” said Jo.
In addition, the lockdown means that Xander can’t even go on possible last visits to Disneyworld and to CBeebies Land at Alton Towers in the near future.
“We’ve had to cancel a lot of plans,” continued Jo. “We can’t do simple things like take him to the park, or down to the beach in Devon, which we used to love doing as a family.
“His immune system is too compromised. It’s too much of a risk.
“At the moment, we cannot even see other family members or friends – it’s literally just the four of us at home.
“If things do take a turn, though, we’ll obviously have decisions to make then about who can see him and how to make it happen.”
At the moment, the Deeley family is together trying to make the most of the precious time that has been given to them.