A 10-year-old boy, whose brain tumour has recurred five times, has received a signed shirt and PS5 from his favourite England player, Marcus Rashford.
Charlie Cox, from Cheam in Sutton, was shocked to receive the gifts from Rashford after his aunt, Laura, contacted the player on Twitter on June 2.
Charlie’s parents, Glen Cox and Kirsty Court, said it was ‘unbelievable’ and an ‘extremely kind gesture’ from the Manchester United star.
Charlie Cox was just eight months old when he was diagnosed with an oligoastrocytoma grade 2 brain tumour and has endured two surgeries, chemotherapy and countless hospital appointments, many at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, for almost 10 years.
Kirsty, a trainee teacher, said: “[Charlie’s aunt] bought Marcus Rashford’s book because it says ‘You Are A Champion’ and Charlie is a champion in everyone’s eyes, with what he deals with, and she took a picture of it and tweeted it.”
After initially asking for a birthday message, Marcus Rashford said he would do “one better” and sent him a signed England shirt.
The family were then “gobsmacked” to receive another gift from the football player – a PS5 and a game.
Glen, a police officer, said: “Marcus is very down to earth, he comes across as very humble from his upbringing and how that’s helped his progress in life.
“It’s unbelievable and is an extremely kind gesture.”
Marcus Rashford called Charlie a ‘little superstar’ to his 4.8 million Twitter followers and posted a photo of the 10-year-old beaming with his new England top.
Charlie was just eight months old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering with seizures for months.
Kirsty said: “He was having seizures from the age of three and we didn’t’ know what it was until he was eight months old.
“The last thing you want to hear is that your son has got a brain tumour.”
Despite Charlie’s condition, his parents describe him as a “happy baby”.
“He was meeting milestones, very happy, very social, very smiley,” said Kirsty.
Glen added: “It was devastating, I can still relive that moment as if it were yesterday. The ward, the doctors, it was absolutely heart-breaking.”
At just 11 months old, Charlie endured an eight-hour surgery to remove the tumour and recovered well.
Kirsty said: “I remember thinking we were going into hospital the day before the surgery and I could potentially be leaving the hospital without him.
“The risks that it came with, it was so high, you don’t want to think of the worst case scenario but you couldn’t help but think that. It was the longest day, for eight hours we didn’t see him.”
“I remember the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and I remember a family getting the worst case news next to us,” added Glen.
“So whilst we were in there praying and hoping, there is a family getting the news you’re praying not to hear… it was a horrible day.”
The operation was successful and Charlie was monitored for two years by doctors and seemed to be doing well.
But in April 2014, an MRI scan showed the tumour had returned and Charlie had to undergo 18 months of chemotherapy which ended in January 2016.
“I remember being sat in the reception area and we saw the surgeon walking in. He’s always a very jolly and happy person but as soon as I made contact, his face changed, I knew it wasn’t good news,” said Glen.
“Sadly I had the same reaction as the first time, I couldn’t physically speak, I was frozen in heartache and shock.”
Only nine months after finishing chemotherapy in January 2016, another MRI scan showed Charlie had relapsed.
He then underwent his second surgery in November 2016.
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Despite recovering well, an MRI showed a growth in the tumour in July 2019 and Charlie began a 12-month course of chemotherapy.
A further MRI in May last year showed a growth in the tumour and the then nine-year-old was given yet another course of chemo which continues today.
Charlie’s treatment was made particularly difficult during the pandemic, with only one parent permitted to accompany him in hospital.
Kirsty said: “[His treatment] changed to a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy that made him so sick, he’d know what was coming and he hated it, he used to dread it.”
“It was a big change, he’s used to having both his parents there, his brother and the occasional visitor with us so it was a shock to all of us,” added Glen.
“Sadly he’s developed quite a bit of anxiety… I was there on Wednesday (July 7) and he worked himself up so much he was sick during his chemotherapy because he was so worried about it not working.
“He’s brilliant with the overall bigger picture but that anxiety has increased.”
Despite Charlie’s ongoing treatment, his parents describe their son as “brilliant.”
According to Glen and Kirsty, the fun-loving 10-year-old enjoys playing PlayStation, particularly the game Fortnight, and loves golf and football.
Throughout the near decade of treatments and appointments, Kirsty explained how she remained honest with her son about his condition.
She said: “If he understands and knows beforehand, he’s not going to be shocked, there’s no surprises. We’ve always been very honest with him.
“We were at a family party once and there were other kids who asked him ‘What’s on your head?’ and he said ‘That’s my scar, I had an operation to remove a brain tumour, if it ever comes back again, we’ll get rid of it.’
“He went on and carried on playing, it’s nice he knows he can fight anything.”
Charlie and his family continue to remain positive throughout the challenges and try to make the most of every day.
“Life is precious, enjoy it while you can… We still go on holidays, we do breaks away, days out, we make things that matter extra special,” said Kirsty.
“I see life completely different now…as long as all my children are happy, that’s the main thing.”
Glen continued: “We’ve had a saying that we adopted, ‘be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.’
“It has resonated so deeply with Charlie’s journey, a weekend without any admissions to hospital, full weeks at school, positive MRI results, we’ve tried to take whatever we can as positive and use that to keep going.”
Charlie’s parents continue to fundraise for Brain Tumour Research, Magical Taxi Tours, who provide trips to Disneyland Paris for children with debilitating illnesses, and the Royal Marsden Hospital.
According to Brain Tumour Research, brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to the disease.
Charlie’s parents are planning a charity walk in October this year to fundraise for their chosen charities.
If you would like to donate to their fundraiser, please click here.