Boy, 7, dies from rare cancer before family could start new life in Australia

Tributes have been paid to a ‘kind and loving’ seven-year-old boy who has died after battling a rare cancer for months.

Fletcher Discombe, from Devon, developed a lump in his neck and started to lose his vision – weeks before his family had planned to emigrate to Australia.

He was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in May 2022, and after fighting the cancer with chemotherapy and specialist treatment he died in November.

Doctors first thought the lump was a swollen lymph node, however, after Fletcher began to lose his vision, follow-up tests were arranged.

An MRI scan later revealed he had a big tumour behind his nose.

The youngster was rushed to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children where he stayed for a few weeks and underwent a 15-hour operation to save his eyesight

The cancer had formed in soft tissue and spread to his lungs and bone marrow, giving him just around 20 per cent chance of survival.

Fletcher started radiotherapy last September but had been struggling to eat, swallow and talk due to suffering badly with mucositis – a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Despite appearing to get better on a trip home from hospital the schoolboy had a massive seizure in the back of the car, and his mum thought she had lost him.

His mum, Kat, drove him to Torbay Hospital where he was intubated and put in intensive care, but it didn’t have a paediatric ICU, so she was hoping to move to Bristol.

But due to a lack of space Fletcher – whose nickname was Tigger because he was always jumping around – had to go to a hospital in Oxford.

Fletcher then took another turn for the worst, suffering two more seizures.

Kat said: ‘Unfortunately, due to the fact he had had such a long seizure, he lost the ability to talk to us.

‘After days and hours of waiting we were told the MRI scan showed evidence of cancer on his brain and spine which was causing the seizures.

‘We were then taken to a side room and told there was nothing that could be done for Fletch and they would try to move him to a hospice.’

Fletcher was transferred to Charlton Farm Children’s Hospice in Bristol and had been given just days to live.

He fought for a further two weeks and died on November 16, with his parents by his side.

Paying tribute to their son, Kat said: ‘Fletch was a fighter, he never complained throughout treatment.

‘The only times he really got upset was when he was neutropenic from the chemotherapy which caused a high temperature.

‘This meant trips back to the hospital for a minimum of 48 hours of antibiotics.

‘Fletch was an absolute lover of life, he was the kindest, bravest boy who adored his sister and would often want to buy her flowers. Losing him has broken us all.’

To try and prevent further tragedies, Fletcher’s parents have launched a fundraiser called Fletcher’s Arc.

The charity is dedicated to finding a cure and kinder, more targeted treatments for those diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma.

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