£154,000 fundraising target for High Peak youngster's cancer treatment is reached

The mum of a High Peak youngster living with cancer has said she is over the moon after the family reached their fundraising target for pioneering treatment in the USA – in less than a year.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:10 pm

Eleven-year-old Peter Berriman was first diagnosed in 2019 but the pioneering treatment he needs to stop his cancer from growing is not available in the UK.

Since June last year Peter’s family, friends and people across the High Peak have been raising the money needed to send him overseas. And last week, the appeal reached the £154,000 total needed to allow Peter to have the full cycle of treatment in America.

His mum Mandy Berriman said: “We are feeling utterly gobsmacked and over the moon too!

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Peter Berriman with his parents Martin and Mandy and brother Sam

“When we started this fundraising we thought it might take two years but we have hit our target in less than a year which is truly amazing and I can’t quite believe it.

“We have spent so much time worrying about how we would raise the money. Worrying people would not support us as we know everyone has had a tough couple of years and worrying if we only raised some of the money we would have to stop the trial half way through but I’m blown away by the support from everyone.

“It feels like the whole community has come out and said don’t worry we’ve got this and we will look after you and we are here for you all.

“Knowing we have this money means we can focus on Peter now.”

Peter Berriman waiting to board a plane to America in January

Diagnosis

The family, who live in Chinley, were given the news that Peter was diagnosed with Intermediate Risk Neuroblastoma in 2019.

His diagnosis came after he complained about back ache which his parents initially thought was because he was walking a different way after breaking his toe in the weeks before.

While visiting family in Scotland, Peter got worse and ended up in hospital. Scans showed Peter had a growth which was pushing on his spine and two days later a biopsy was taken.

Peter Berriman

His tumour caused a spinal cord injury which left him with no movement or sensation in his lower body and he now uses a wheelchair.

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

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.

However, regular scans later showed that Peter’s tumour was smaller and showing signs of dying off and the pelvis disease is less visible.

This meant he was well enough to go to America to start his maintenance trials to keep the disease at bay.

Trial

In January, Peter, Mandy and dad Martin made the journey to America to start the trial.

The trial will not only stop the cancer growth but lower his relapse rate which is important because every time he relapses it becomes more difficult to treat. It is also designed to stop anything else growing too.

The treatment is pay as you go and although the family had £110,000 in the bank by the time they made their first journey, they still needed to raise another £45,000 to reach the end of the programme.

Mandy said: “Every month or so the Solving Kids Cancer charity, which is who we are fundraising with, send a financial report updating the total with donations made offline and adding in Gift Aid.

“When I saw there a donation of £44,000 going in I had to read it twice.

“It means we have the money and Peter can complete his full trial. We have the money for everything – our flights and accommodation near the hospital are paid for. It means the world to all of us.”

Community

Since the campaign started the High Peak community has rallied round, organising events from pub quizzes and raffles to walking across hot coals in bare feet all to help Peter get the treatment.

Mandy said: “Since we started raising money people have been coming up to us in the street and saying hello, and I really feel we have got to know the community more which is nice.

“To every person who has bought a raffle ticket or done a sponsored event for Peter, our son and Sam’s brother, we all thank you.

“I don’t think there will ever be enough thank yous but I’m blown away by people’s kindness and generosity.”

Peter is currently doing well in himself and is attending Chapel-en-le-Frith High School full time.

He is due more scans in mid April in Manchester and as long as they show Peter’s condition is stable or better he can carry on with the trial in America, where he will be heading off to again at the end of April.

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