Alex Herbert has suffered 12 months of hell. First, he saw his dad struck down by a major stroke, then he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Despite this, he remains a cheerful little boy more concerned with others’ wellbeing than his own.
Witnessing such a traumatic event, and what came next, was a real test for Alex and his mum Farah. “Alex is really close to his dad, so seeing him unable to walk or talk was a struggle for him, but then Alex was diagnosed with leukaemia during the first lockdown – 97% of his bone marrow had leukaemia cells.” Farah says Alex’s first thought when he was told the bad news wasn’t about himself. “When Alex was told he had leukaemia, the first thing he was worried about is who would look after his dad. That just shows his strength of character.” Alex was put on a chemotherapy program, but in December doctors revealed that he wasn’t responding to treatment as they expected. “His treatment was increased to four chemo injections and a course of IV chemo a week, plus chemo pills every day. He also has to go into theatre and receive chemo there.” His treatment destroyed his immune system, so Alex and his family are in total lockdown. “The only time we leave the house is for walks and hospital trips,” explains Farah. “We’ll be like this for at least six months while Alex receives his treatment.” Everyone can agree that isolating at home for six months sucks, especially when friends and family can get out into the big wide world. That’s why Satan’s Little Helper sent him some new LEGO to play with, and a few of his favourite books to keep him occupied. “Alex finished his books the day he got them, and he’s busy re-reading them as we speak! The LEGO has been brilliant as well, it gives him something to focus on which isn’t screen-related, and it’s something that helps engage his brain. “He’s just finished reading the second Harry Potter book, so getting a massive Chamber of Secrets set was so exciting for him.” Farah is hopeful that Alex will ‘only’ have to isolate for six months, although his treatment could take as long as two-and-a-half years. The next step is to get him back to school (he currently does it online), and face-to-face with his mates and peers. We’re all crossing our fingers for some positive progress from Alex, who remains a "bouncy, happy, cheerful little boy” despite everything he’s been through.