Fundraiser launched for lifesaving treatment for High Peak 11-year-old

The family of an eleven-year-old High Peak boy who has been living with cancer for two and a half years is trying to get him specialised lifesaving treatment – but it may cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:59 am
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 10:00 am

Peter Berriman is paralysed from the stomach down and is in a wheelchair after a tumour was discovered pressing on his spine in 2018. Since then his Neuroblastoma cancer has returned to his head and pelvis.

Now his family are looking to raise funds so Peter from Chinley can take part in clinical trials not yet available on the NHS.

Peter all smiles on his birthday
Peter all smiles on his birthday

His mum Mandy Berriman told The Buxton Advertiser of the journey the family has been on since Peter became ill.

The 44-year-old said: “It’s been exhausting and relentless but throughout it all Peter has been so amazing and not phased by anything at all.”

Back in December 2018 Peter, who was a very active eight-year-old, began complaining of back ache.

Initaily his parents thought it was because he broke his toe in the weeks before and may have been walking in a different way but as his pain persisted he started to mention he was getting pins and needles in his legs.

Peter on his hand bike

Mandy said: “The day after Boxing Day he was struggling to walk and even get up the stairs so we went to the doctor who booked him in for blood tests in the new year.

"We went to see my mum in Scotland for New Year’s and Peter was getting worse so we took him to her GP and from there we were sent to the hospital for an MRI scan.”

The scan showed Peter had a growth which was pushing on his spine and two days later a biopsy was taken.

Mandy said: “The pressure reached crtitical point that night and his body couldn’t take any more and he lost the feeling and use of his legs and halfway up his chest.

Peter meets Mario and Luigi

"He hasn’t been fazed by needing to use a wheelchair. We have made house adaptations but it hasn’t got him down. He still goes to mainstream school and enjoys scouts and we add a handbike to his wheelchair so we can go for family bike rides together.”

It January 2019 he was first diagnosed with Intermediate Risk Neuroblastoma

He successfully completed his cancer treatment in February 2020 but unfortunately in August 2020, Peter's cancer relapsed, this time as metastatic High Risk Neuroblastoma.

Mandy explained: “We had just gone through lockdown and I think it was a good time for us a family to take stock of everything which had happened but then in the August he found a lump in his head.

Thumbs up from Peter

"He was scanned and a couple of weeks later we received the devastating news his neuroblastoma had relapsed and it had not relapsed in the original tumour site but had spread throughout his body.”

He had a tumour on his skull, lesions on his pelvis and evidence of disease in his bone marrow classing his relapse as high risk and vastly reducing his chances of long-term survival.

“Relapsed Neuroblastoma is complicated and hard to treat,” said Mandy, “and, even if remission is achieved, there is a high risk of further relapse and the more relapses he has the harder it will become to treat him.”

Peter was immediately registered for clinical study and after a random selection process received chemotherapy only.

To begin with, the tumour growth was kept at bay, and he was classed as stable but after four cycles of treatment, the tumour began to grow again.

Full of smiles

He crossed over to the alternative treatment arm of the trial which combines chemotherapy and immunotherapy and so far he has had six cycles of treatment and starts radiotherapy in just over a week.

The tumour and pelvic lesions have remained stable, and the family recently had the wonderful news that there is no longer any evidence of disease in his bone marrow.

He has one more cycle of this treatment to complete and then he will have radiotherapy to the skull tumour.

It has been a tough few years for the family including Peter’s dad Martin and his older brother Sam who Mandy says has been so mature and understanding even though the brother he knew changed so quickly.

Mandy said: “While there are still options ahead, many of the treatment and maintenance trials available are not based in the UK and further treatment for Peter could include a clinical trial in America or Spain.

"He has been on clinical trials before and as wonderful as the NHS are and have been with us, some of the trials which may help Peter are only available if the disease progresses.

"So he has to get worse before he could access more treatment which we really don’t want for him but there are studies in other countries doing great things in children’s Neuroblastoma.

“So we are starting to fundraise as some of the treatments cost between £200,000 and £300,000.

"We know he has a life threatening disease but we also know there is hope and we want to explore all these options and do everything we can and keep this horrid disease at bay.”

His fundraiser has already raised more than £8,000 with donations and sponsored events such as an auction, raffles and quizzes already being planned.

Mandy said: “I can’t believe it people have been so generous.

"We have a huge challenge ahead both in supporting Peter through his cancer treatment and in raising the funds.

"We’re only just getting started but with your help and support, we are sure we can achieve our goal of raising the funds needed for Neuroblastoma treatment that Peter cannot access on the NHS.”

Donate online at https://www.solvingkidscancer.org.uk/appeal/peter or to donate by text send “PETERB” followed by any whole amount up to £20 to 70085. This will cost your donation plus your standard network charge.

Peter with his family; mum Mandy, ad Martin, and brother Sam
Peter before his spinal problem started