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Bailey, 11, virtually meets Newcastle United team to celebrate end of chemotherapy treatment

A football-obsessed little boy diagnosed with bone cancer is celebrating the end of his gruelling chemotherapy treatments by virtually meeting his Premier League heroes at Newcastle United.

Bailey Cuthbert, 11, was admitted to Newcastle’s Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) in March after doctors discovered a tumour in his wrist.

He was given the devastating news he had osteosarcoma and would require specialist care and a lengthy stay on ward four, more than 50 miles away from his home in Bedale, North Yorkshire.

Bailey faced his treatment with strength and determination with the support of his family and Newcastle United Foundation GNCH Project Coordinator, Gareth Williams, who has been by Bailey’s side for nine months.

For the past three years, Foundation staff have been engaging children and teenagers spending time on GNCH’s paediatric oncology wards, encouraging patients and visiting relatives to play, learn, laugh and keep active, thanks to generous funding by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Bailey became the first patient at GNCH to undergo a 14-hour procedure in June that saw NHS surgeons remove the tumour and transplant bone and tissue into the wrist, fusing it in place metal rods.

Since then he has enthusiastically engaged with Gareth and the Foundation’s GNCH programme while receiving chemotherapy, completing his final session on Friday, December 18.

To mark the milestone in his treatment journey, Gareth arranged a special Christmas treat for Bailey, setting up a livestream from the hospital to nearby St. James’ Park with players virtually meeting the keen young footballer.

Bailey said: “It’s the best part of the day when Gareth comes to do work with me. It makes me forget about treatment.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak to the players and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since Gareth told me about it.”

The feed saw members of the United first team taking time to say hello and chat to Bailey before heading out to face Fulham at home on Saturday night, giving him message of support and best wishes for the future.

Bailey hopes his treatment will allow him to play football again with friends soon, just as he used to before his diagnosis.

His mum, Elaine, said: “We’ve been able to see the stadium from the hospital for the past nine months and Bailey just loves football – it’s great for him to have this opportunity through the Newcastle United Foundation and it’s the perfect end to his treatment.”

Newcastle United Foundation staff use vital funding from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to tailor sports and educational activities that also engage siblings and families with their loved ones in hospital.

GNCH Project Coordinator Gareth said: “Seeing Bailey’s progress since the start of lockdown in the spring has been amazing and he has faced everything with such a positive attitude.

“He is a fantastic young lad and has been so enthusiastic throughout his time on the ward, getting involved with all the sports and physical activity that we can offer in the hospital.

“We are really pleased to be able to give Bailey the opportunity to speak to the team since he loves football so much and he definitely deserves a Christmas treat after such a tough year.”


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