An eight-year-old boy who was told he had cancer “just like mum”, is celebrating his victory over the disease – just weeks before the first anniversary of his death. Brave Freddie Gittins was heartbroken when his beloved mother Emma died of cancer on March 30 last year aged just 41.

Months later, his father noticed he was extremely tired and his skin had a yellow tint, so he took him to the doctor who confirmed the family’s worst fears. Blood tests in July revealed Freddie had leukemia and dad Jamie was given the gruesome task of breaking the news to his son.

Jamie, 40, told Freddie he had cancer “just like mum” and the youngster began months of grueling chemotherapy and radiation sessions. Just weeks before the first anniversary of Emma’s death, Freddie was told he was cancer free.

Jamie, from Hereford, said: “Fred being leukemia free is amazing and once we get through this next block of treatment I will be able to relax a bit. It’s been a horrible year but the Easter holidays are It’s when he gets his lines taken away and regains some independence and normalcy.

“He will be able to shower or go swimming again, which he loves. Life will never be the same for us again with everything we’ve been through, but I can’t wait to get back to normal without all the stress and worries we’ve had throughout the past year.

Freddie Gittins

The world of the family was first turned upside down in October 2017, when Emma, ​​then 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Freddie and Noah’s mum, 11, was given the green light in August 2018 after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Primary school principal Jamie said: ‘We split in 2018 but remained best friends, co-parenting the boys together. But a few years later, in February 2019, the cancer returned and this time it was terminal. We’ve always been very honest with the boys about Emma’s diagnosis. We explained to them that the cancer would not go away this time.”

On March 30 last year, Emma, ​​who worked in HR, died surrounded by friends and family at Hereford Hospital. Then, just three months later, Jamie noticed an alarming change in his youngest son and asked the doctors to see him. Jamie said: “Freddie would come home from school and put the TV on and within five minutes he was sleeping on the sofa. He had no energy and I just attributed it to the fact that it was nearing the end of the day. end of the school year and all that had happened with his mother.

“But then he started getting a yellow tint to his skin and eyes. I called 111 and they told me to take him to the hospital immediately. At that moment I heard the news about Freddie, in my head I thought, that’s it, he’s going to die.

“I went out and talked to my family and friends and just said, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength. And I sat all night watching him while he slept. The oncologist told me that if you were to get leukemia, Fred’s is the best to have. The success rate is over 90% for his age. It will be difficult for a few months, but he will be fine. And at that moment, I was able to say ‘OK, okay. I just have to keep going with this.

Jamie Gittins, Noah, Freddie and the late Emma Gittins
Jamie Gittins, Noah, Freddie and the late Emma Gittins

On July 14 last year, Freddie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), an aggressive cancer of the white blood cells. Only around 790 people are diagnosed in the UK each year, with 75% of patients under the age of 15.

It causes symptoms of repeated infections, bone and joint pain, swollen glands, abdominal pain and unusual bleeding. Skin changes include paleness, a purple rash and easy bruising – and some patients, like Freddie, may have jaundice due to impaired liver function from the cancer.

Throughout his treatment, Freddie was comforted by the keepsake boxes his loving mother had made for him and his brother Noah months before his death. She even recorded her own voice in Build-A-Bear teddies for boys and made badges with inspirational quotes written on them. Emma has also written a blog – Boobs Behaving Badly – which details her journey with cancer. Jamie said: “We made the decision early on after Emma’s terminal diagnosis that we weren’t going to hide anything from the boys, which we have done all along.

“But telling them she was dead was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. As soon as Em got her terminal diagnosis, I replayed that conversation in my head a million times. It absolutely broke their hearts. The whole family was there because I said I didn’t think I could do it myself. It’s not something you want to have to do.

Freddie and Noah Gittins at WWE hosted by Molly Ollys
Freddie and Noah Gittins at WWE hosted by Molly Ollys

“The keepsake boxes are a big help to them now. They include Build-A-Bear teddy bears with his recorded voice. They can shake hands and listen to their mom. And keychains with his thumbprint on it so they can always hold his hand and a few

Brave Boys’ Club badges with motivational messages engraved on the back saying “you’re brave, you’re kind, you’re strong”. “Emma’s brother and I also put together some pictures and the boys picked out their own items, like a candle that smelled like their mom, and jewelry.” The family have been helped by the charity Molly Ollys Wishes which helps terminally ill children achieve their dreams. The Warwickshire-based charity has granted a special wish to Freddie and his 11-year-old brother Noah to receive VIP tickets to see WWE wrestling live.

He added: “Both boys have always wanted to attend a live WWE show and they felt like VIPs. We were six rows from the ring so everything was up close and personal and they got high fives from the wrestlers. It was an incredible experience.” Jamie, who runs Kings Caple Primary School in Hereford, hopes to raise £2,000 for the charity when he runs a half marathon on March 27.