Emotional moments for family as Essex cancer twin joins his brother at school

A five-year-old boy from Essex who overcame Covid-19 while being treated for a rare cancer spent his first day of school with his twin brother.

Archie Wilks, of Saffron Walden in Essex, had just started kindergarten when he fell ill two and a half years ago.

In March last year, while undergoing treatment for childhood cancer neuroblastoma, he tested positive for the coronavirus.

His parents, Simon and Harriet, said he appeared to have conquered Covid-19 the following month, and he’s now built up enough strength to join his twins, Henry, in reception class on Monday.

Mr. Wilks said: “It was quite overwhelming to see them both go to school together because the wait has taken so long.

We were both pretty emotional seeing Archie in his school uniform and watching them play together in their uniform all night long. We absolutely cherish the simple things after going through this with Archie.

Simon Wilks, dad Archie Wilks battles a rare childhood cancer but is now strong enough to go to school with his brother Credit: Family Facebook page

He said when Archie was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, he couldn’t get up, but now “running around blows bubbles” and has ridden a bicycle.

“He’s nowhere near his peers and his brother, but he’s getting much better,” he said. He said Archie has “really built up his strength” and “loves to play with his friends.”

Archie and his twin brother Henry warm up for school with a little loss of face. Credit: Family Facebook page

The family is trying to raise $ 230,000 for Archie to participate in a vaccination journey in America, which could reduce the likelihood of the cancer returning once he is in remission.

More than £ 215,000 has been donated to his JustGiving page and his dad said they are “so close” to their target total.

Archie will need surgery in a few weeks to remove a tumor around his kidney, followed by a month of radiotherapy and then six months of immunotherapy, Mr. Wilks said.

“It is right after the immunotherapy that we will try to start the trial,” he said.

Archie during one of his regular visits to the hospital Credit: Family Facebook page

The rare cancer neuroblastoma, which affects about 100 children in the UK every year and is most common in children under the age of five, develops from specialized nerve cells (neuroblasts) left behind by a baby’s development in the womb.

Two tumors were found around Archie’s kidney and spine, and the disease had spread to other areas, including his bones and bone marrow.

Mr. Wilks said that 50% of children who have been successfully treated for neuroblastoma will relapse. Of those who relapse, 90% will not survive.

Mr. Wilks said the vaccination trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York “will try to reduce the likelihood of that happening and let us all know that we’ve done everything we can to give Archie the best chance at life” .

To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/archiesjourney

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