Grieving mum facing first Christmas without son, 9, who died from brain tumour


Gemma, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, wasn’t going to put up her Christmas tree but did in the end as she thinks her son Riley would have wanted her to

Riley Gregersen ringing the end of treatment bell wih Gemma
Riley Gregersen ringing the end of treatment bell with mum Gemma

A grieving mum who lost her only child to a brain tumour has said she is “dreading” her first Christmas without him.

Riley Gregersen, nine, died in August this year after he was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in January 2020.

He previously suffered a seizure at his after-school club after suffering weeks of symptoms such as tiredness and a tremor in his right arm.

His mum Gemma took him to the GP before the Christmas holidays in 2019, and they were told his symptoms were stress-related, or possibly a trapped nerve.

They were told to go back in a few weeks’ time for a blood test if he didn’t feel better.

Riley by the Christmas Tree in 2019
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Riley Gregersen died at the end of August
(

Image:

Gemma Gregersen)

Riley’s teachers also noticed his symptoms, as his tremor was causing him to struggle to write.

The school contacted Gemma, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, to say they were worried about his mental health.

Gemma told BirminghamLive : “I assured them that Riley had a happy home life and no reason to be feeling anxious or stressed.

“When the results from the blood tests came back, they didn’t reveal anything of concern, so Riley was referred for an ‘urgent’ MRI scan but the appointment didn’t come through before he suffered the seizure on 20 January.”

Riley with mom Gemma, who is “dreading” her first Christmas without her only son
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

On February 28 2020, Riley had surgery to debulk the tumour, which was located in his thalamus, close to the pons – in the middle of his brainstem.

Surgeons managed to remove 40 per cent of the tumour and the remaining mass was targeted with intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

But Riley’s prognosis remained stark, so Gemma, alongside his dad Scott, began researching alternative treatment options overseas.

Gemma said: “We found a private clinic called CeGat in Germany, which could make targeted peptide vaccines, which we believed would give us the best chance of extending Riley’s life. The vaccine injection, which he’d need every six weeks for two years, would cost £55,000.”

Riley by the Christmas tree in 2020
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Pictured is Riley. Mum Gemma says she’s “nowhere near” coming to terms with her loss
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Unable to cover the costs themselves, Riley’s family set up a GoFundMe page, which was inundated with donations.

By December 2020, they’d reached their target but, in the spring, Riley’s health took a turn for the worse.

Gemma said: “Things had been going so well when, in May, Riley started complaining of numbness in his legs and he had balance issues.

“He was having problems going to the toilet, even though he was drinking a lot. I called for an ambulance and they took us into Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

“They did another MRI scan and when got the results, my world fell apart. The tumour had spread and four new tumours had appeared on his spine. There was very little they could do.”

Riley had more palliative radiotherapy but after that, there were no other treatments available. The German clinic sent Riley’s vaccines to the UK, as he was unable to travel, but Gemma couldn’t find anyone in the country willing to administer the vaccine.

She said: “It was completely shattering. On 3 June, Riley was admitted to Acorns Children’s Hospice.

“Nearly three months later, at 8.45pm on 31 August, my precious boy died in my arms. Even though I knew it was coming, it was an absolute shock and just so hard to comprehend.”

Riley wih mom Gemma visiting reindeer
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Less than four months after her loss, Gemma says she’s “nowhere near” coming to terms with what has happened and is now facing her first Christmas without Riley.

She said: “Riley loved everything about Christmas and I have so many special memories to cherish. Every year he would sit with the Smyths Toys catalogue and tell me everything he wanted.

“He loved to pick out presents and write cards for his friends too; he was such a kind and generous boy.

“We would drive around looking at Christmas lights on people’s houses. Last year, he had the chance to feed and play with reindeer – he loved that.

“I’ll never forget the huge smile on his face when I would take his photo in front of our Christmas tree, it was the best thing ever.”

This year, Gemma says she “doesn’t even want to think about Christmas”, adding: “I wasn’t going to put up my tree but I’ve done it, reluctantly, as I think Riley would have wanted me to.

“Normally, the Christmas music would be on repeat by now but this year, I can’t listen to it without him, it’s just horrible.

“I’m thinking about doing a balloon release with some friends and family on Christmas Eve and I’ll spend the festive period with relatives, so I won’t be on my own, but I’ve no doubt it will be really tough.”

Mom Gemma says she can’t listen to Christmas music without her son Riley
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Riley’s shock diagnosis came after weeks of various symptoms, which included tiredness and a tremor in his right arm
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Shortly after receiving Riley’s diagnosis, Gemma set up a Facebook fundraiser to raise money for Brain Tumour Research, as she was “angry” to discover the statistics surrounding brain tumours, in particular the number of young people affected by this disease.

She said: “Riley always wanted to help people. After he died, so many people told me about how caring he was. I found out that he used to look after a little girl in reception class, who was being picked on.

“One thing I am pleased to do this Christmas is to share our story to help raise awareness, in the hope that I can help to make a difference, in Riley’s name.”


Riley was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in January 2020
(

Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Mel Adams, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “At a time when Gemma should be looking forward to Christmas with her little boy, she is grieving her terrible loss and like many other families affected by brain tumours, facing a painful festive period.

“We send her our deepest condolences and will be thinking of her at this difficult time. Riley’s story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone, at any time.

“We remember Riley as we continue in our mission to increase the UK investment in brain tumour research, in order to find a cure for this hideous disease.”

Read More

Read More




www.mirror.co.uk

See also  State of the Union 2022 live: Stream, time and latest news as Biden to target Facebook

Related Posts

George Holan

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.