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Reagyn’s bell of hope

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By Abbey Morton
Annan and Eskdale
Reagyn’s bell of hope

A CLANGING bell in Annan on Sunday afternoon symbolised the end of cancer treatment for 12-year-old Reagyn Ferguson.

For the last three and a half years, the Hecklegirth pupil has battled leukaemia and lost his hearing.

He has been given almost 7000 ‘Beads of Courage’ – one for each night spent in hospital and for each time he had to be brave.

But now his gruelling treatment is over and he has been declared cancer free.

And on Sunday, people special to Reagyn joined him for an outdoor, socially distant ceremony to mark the momentous occasion.

Friends, family and a nurse who cared for him clapped, cheered and cried as he sounded the bell in his Princes Avenue garden.

Mum Sharon shared her son’s experience, which started on September 8 2017 with a rash on his leg. She said: “I wasn’t really concerned. I took him to the chemist just to be on the safe side, I didn’t even think we needed to see a doctor.”

But the pharmacist sent them to the doctor, who promptly arranged for blood tests at Dumfries hospital.

The next 12 hours were a whirlwind – by 11.30 pm that night, Reagyn was in hospital in Glasgow and diagnosed with Philadelphia Chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

He spent the next three months in hospital receiving high dose chemotherapy and by Christmas he was in remission and able to spend time at home.

However, the following month, he returned for further treatment and over the next eight months was in and out of hospital.

During that time, Sharon began to notice Reagyn was struggling to hear – and testing revealed he had lost 52 per cent of his hearing. There was more bad news in April 2019 at a routine 12-weekly lumbar puncture and his behaviour became unusual.

Sharon said: “He was like he was when first ill, he was high.

“I had to scrape him off the ceiling, it brought back all the memories.

“We were due to go home but I decided we should stay an extra day because he just wasn’t right.

“In the morning he had a temperature, his lumbar puncture result was abnormal and he needed an emergency CT scan.”

On April 25, they were given the devastating news that the cancer had come back and this time had entered his central nervous system.

Sharon said: “He went straight back onto high dose chemo, but he didn’t cope with it as well that time.

“He had to have prophylactic antibiotics to protect him from the hospital environment and was much more ill this time round.”

Reagyn’s immune system began to attack his organs and Sharon was warned she might lose her son.

It was decided the best option was a stem cell transplant, which would be carried out at The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.

A 12-12 match was found for him – meaning the donor had experienced the same childhood illnesses as Reagyn.

The six week transplant process began in September 2019 and was hailed a success.

Reagyn was discharged from hospital but they remained at Marion’s House, the home from home for children and families accessing cancer treatment, so he could have ‘day care’ for medication.

It was at this time that Reagyn lost his hearing completely.

And Sharon explained it was caused by a genetic condition being triggered by one of the life-saving antibiotics.

To cope, Reagyn and the family have learned sign language, and he has had a cochlear implant successfully fitted.

Reagyn came back home to Annan in March last year as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Although he could have rung the end of treatment bell in September 2020, he wanted to wait until he could be joined by friends and family.

The End of Treatment Bell charity offers a mobile service whereby people can have the bell delivered to ring it loud and proud at home.

Sharon said: “It was great to see him finally ring that bell because it is the end of an important journey and it was important for him to mark that.

“Reagyn knows there’s high chance that the cancer could come back, but that might not be until he’s 75.

“Right now he just wants to be with his friends and live his life.”

The next step for Reagyn is to choose his one ‘wish’ from the Make a Wish Foundation.

Sharon said: “He would love to go to London and have a meal cooked for him by Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s. Then he wants Gordon Ramsey to shout at him!

“But he would also really like to stay in a lodge with a hot tub.

“He still has to decide.”

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