After a tough start, there is hope for Alfie
Like most babies his age, little Alfie McKenna-Taylor is a giggling, happy-go-lucky tot who loves to smile.
But three-month-old Alfie’s smile hides heartbreak, as he bravely battles an ultra rare form of cancer.
He has already endured agonising bouts of chemotherapy to try to cure his retinoblastoma, a condition which affects about 50 people a year but one that has plagued the last five generations of his family.
But this week Alfie took a huge step forward on the road to recovery, and as a fundraising appeal is launched to help a cancer charity, his mum spoke of her pride in her little lad.
“We knew there was a 50/50 chance he would get it due to the family history, but to hear that your baby has cancer is still hard to take,” said 23-year-old mum Janine, who herself battled it as a six-month-old.
Her great-grandfather was the first family member diagnosed with the condition, which is a rapidly developing malignant tumour in the retina.
Almost always found in children an, the often hereditary condition is rarely fatal – although its effects can last forever.
“A lot of my family have lost the use of an eye because of it,” added Janine, from their home near Seamer Road.
“It always remains with you and it affects your vision, but we hope Alfie will be OK.”
Those hopes were given a major boost on Friday, when doctors told the family they were confident lasers could be used to zap the cancer.
Hopefully it means no more chemotherapy for Alfie, who has had to travel to Birmingham every three weeks for specialist eye exams since he was diagnosed at just after he was born.
For his family, the news was a “big relief”.
“He’s been quite ill from the chemo, and it can leave him quite poorly,” said Janine.
“He’s ended up needing blood and platelet transfusions but now he’s doing really well and he’s back to himself.”
With Alfie hopefully on the mend, his family want to raise cash for Candlelighters.
Based at Leeds General Infirmary where Alfie’s chemo sessions were held, it is designed to support others who have to go through the ordeal of a child with cancer.
And as part of this, old family friend Dave Blakely will cycle for 80 miles from his Dewsbury home to Scarborough.
Setting off on July 25, he plans on cycling for almost eight hours to raise around £800 for the cause.
With around £200 already in the kitty already, he’s hoping to do his bit to say thank you on behalf of brave Alfie.
“I have a lot of time for the family, and we’ve been family friends for over 40 years,” said the 55-year-old.
“It’s been hard to watch, the family have been through a lot.
“It was hard to see little Alfie get it, it’s distressing to see and no child should go through what he’s gone through.” Visit www.justgiving.com/alfiesbikeride