Parents pledge to tackle rare cancer after ‘incredibly brave’ son dies

Bereaved parents “broken” by the death of their young son have vowed to help find a cure for the disease that killed him. Aaron Wharton, seven, died last month from Anaplastic Ependymoma, a cancer of the central nervous system, following his diagnosis during the Covid lockdown in 2020, when he was just four years old. Nicola and Lee Wharton have described their devastation after his death on April 8 and now plan to dedicate their lives to raise funds and awareness for the rare disease.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Ms Wharton said she and her husband are “completely broken” and “trying to put one foot in front of the other”.

In his absence, she added that she “desperately” wants to do anything she can to keep Aaron’s memory alive.

The grieving mum said they would need to talk about the disease that claimed their son’s life and put it “in front of people”.

The family, from North Wales, spent years taking their son to and from specialists at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

The schoolboy underwent gruelling treatment, receiving a combination of chemotherapy and surgery from 2020.

He was forced to relearn how to speak due to damage caused by the tumour and, in early 2021, underwent another operation when doctors found it had returned.

After more surgery, he was given radiotherapy treatment at Wirral’s Clatterbridge Centre, followed by a further three more months of chemotherapy until April 2022.

Doctors told his parents Aaron’s declining health had started a “waiting game” earlier this year, and his condition markedly deteriorated while the family was on holiday.

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He died at Hope House Hospice in Tŷ Gobaith on Sunday, April 9, and Ms Wharton told the Echo that her son was “incredibly brave” as he endured the illness with “a smile on his face”.

Despite his age, she said the youngster, the “epiphany of inspiration”, had developed a “get up and go ethic”.

She remembered his “infectious smile” that would cause everyone to “melt in front of him”.

The parents are resolute in their desire to raise awareness of Anaplastic Ependymoma, with Aaron’s diagnosis coming only after several visits to the doctor.

The boy’s first signs were sickness and a lopsided smile, which Ms Wharton noticed when he was four.

She said brain tumours get less coverage than other diseases, meaning there is little investment despite them being “one of the biggest killers”.

She added: “People are still dying, and we need to do all we can to help find a cure.”

The mum plans to raise money and awareness with a fire walk for Brain Tumour Research.

She is seeking donations for the walk, which takes place on May 19 at Wrexham FC, Aaron’s favourite football club.

People who wish to donate to the cause can do so via Ms Wharton’s Just Giving campaign here.

The campaign has already raised £2,021 of its £2,800 goal, and the mum plans to do more.

She said the family is “desperately” hoping to reach Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny, Wrexham FC’s celebrity bosses.

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