Brave Ollie Garside fights cancer for a quarter of his life
OLLIE Garside has been fighting cancer for a quarter of his life.
And he regards chemotherapy as a normal part of anyone's childhood – so much so that he has asked when his sister's treatment will start.
The four-year-old was diagnosed with leukaemia just before his third birthday.
He faces at least two more years of treatment.
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Ollie's bravery has led the Bishop's Cleeve youngster to being given a Little Star Award by Cancer Research UK.
His diagnosis last September left his parents Katrina and Aaron, 32, who works in the catering department at Cheltenham Racecourse, in shock.
It came just four months after the birth of their second child, Charlotte, now one.
Ollie had begun to get clingy and had slight bruising on his leg and an occasional limp. He then developed a rash.
Katrina, 30, said: "When he was diagnosed it was a complete shock. I had no experience with cancer and our whole world was turned upside down. Your children are the most precious things and it was a nightmare coming true.
"I think at the beginning our survival instinct kicked in as you have an ill little boy who needs you and so you don't have any choice. But as time goes on things get harder.
"He doesn't really understand what's wrong with him and has even asked when Charlotte will start her chemotherapy, but as he gets older we will have to explain more."
Katrina, a former customer service adviser for an insurance company, said her parents had provided invaluable support – particular during the first weeks.
Ollie undergoes chemotherapy every day at home, but fortunately only has to make monthly trips to the hospital, providing he is coping. His treatment will last for three years in total.
The family has to be extremely careful he does not pick up germs, which means trips to the cinema, public transport and anywhere with big crowds are off limits.
Katrina added: "Just going to the park has to be done with military precision and it can make life difficult.
"But we have to be careful. Ollie falls into the high risk category of it coming back."
In the late 1960s fewer than three in 10 children survived their cancer for at least five years.
Today that figure has risen to almost eight in 10.
The Little Star Awards, which celebrate the courage of all children who confront cancer, are backed by a host of famous faces including JLS, Mo Farah, Leona Lewis and Steven Gerrard.