Bell-ringing moment for brave Irvine boy, 6, who beats cancer after three-and-a-half year battle


An Ayrshire boy has beaten cancer after a three-and-a-half-year battle with the disease.

Brave Eli Abercrombie, from Irvine, finally rang the bell – a tradition for cancer patients in remission – on Monday, March 21 at his granny’s house.

The now six-year-old survivor was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in October 2018.

Proud mum Nicola Thomson was thrilled to see her son take his final dose of oral chemotherapy surrounded by his family and friends.

And afterwards, they all shared some cake which read: ‘Eli kicked cancer’s butt!’

Thrilled Nicola told Ayrshire Live: “I can’t even put into words how proud I am of Eli. He was a total trooper and he never let anything get him down.

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Happy Eli with parents Nicola and Lee with little sister Aria
Happy Eli with parents Nicola and Lee with little sister Aria

“There were a couple of times where we almost lost him over the past three-and-a-half years but he always bounced back.

“It’s been a long time coming and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

“The day Eli was diagnosed was hell and now that we’re at the end of this journey I realize now I’ve blocked a lot of it out.

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“It was a nightmare. You hear about children being diagnosed with cancer but you never think it’s going to happen to you.”

Shortly before their son’s shock diagnosis, parents Nicola and Lee moved to Irvine with their growing family, which also includes Eli’s little sister Aria.

Throughout the youngster’s battle, a number of groups, businesses and even Eli’s nursery pals banded together to create a garden for an immunocompromised Eli to play safely in as he couldn’t attend nursery.

Nicola continued: “I don’t think he realizes what a milestone it is. We made up T-shirts and Eli’s will certainly be getting framed.

“The staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Glasgow were angels to us; they went above and beyond.

“My mum and I did the decorations and made up loads of food for the family members who came along to celebrate. Eli’s face was an absolute picture and he had the time of his life.

“We chose to ring the bell at my mum’s house so our family could be there with us, which wouldn’t have been an option in hospital.”

Eli with his extended family
Eli with his extended family

The family also survived the strains of the global Covid pandemic while Eli was receiving treatment.

“By the time the lockdowns happened,” said Nicola, “we were used to isolation. That was our life before Covid, staying away from everyone to keep Eli as safe as possible.

“There was only one parent allowed at the hospital visits so Lee took him to most of those and I was Eli’s main carer at home.”

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Now back at school, Eli and the family are getting life back on track with a summer trip together and, in the future, Nicola and Lee hope to tie the knot.

Nicola added: “Going through his treatment, Eli’s legs were affected to the point he couldn’t walk and he had loads of tummy pains and exhaustion.

“While he was on steroids, we called him ‘The Hulk’ because he was just the angryest wee boy for about 10 days out of the month.

“Now he’s slowly coming into his own now and it’s great to see but after all of the special treatment and attention, we are still trying to keep him grounded.”

To other parents whose children have been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Nicola offered warm words: “Take it a day, hour or even a minute at a time and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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