‘I’m facing first Christmas without my son after doctors just thought he had stress’

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Riley Gregersen, nine, suffered a seizure at school in January after struggling with holding his arm steady and writing at school, and his parents were given the devastating news their son had an incurable brain tumour.

Mum Gemma is facing her first Christmas without Riley Gregersen, nine, who died of a brain tumour
Mum Gemma is facing her first Christmas without Riley Gregersen, nine, who died of a brain tumour

A mum has spoke of her heartache at spending her first Christmas without her son, who died of a brain tumour after doctors told them his symptoms could have been stress.

Riley Gregersen, nine, was a typical young boy who loved playing football with his friends, but alarm bells began to be rung when he began to struggle with with his writing.

Teachers attributed it to mental health problems, but when his terrified parents took him to doctors they suggested it could be down to stress or even a trapped nerve.

Within weeks, his arm began to shake uncontrollably meaning he couldn’t even feed himself.

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alarm bells began to be rung when he began to struggle with with his writing.
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Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Blood tests didn’t show anything concerning, but Riley was rushed to hospital after suffering a seizure during an after school club.

His parents Gemma and Scott were given the devastating news that their son had an aggressive brain tumour called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Due to where the tumour was, surgeons could only remove around 40% and the surgery was highly dangerous.

His family raised funds for treatment in Germany but tragically the cancer spread to his spine and he was admitted to a hospice where he died on August 31.

Now facing her first Christmas without Riley, the family have bravely spoken out in a bid to warn parents to be aware of the symptoms of brain tumours in children.

Now facing her first Christmas without Riley, the family have bravely spoken out in a bid to warn parents to be aware of the symptoms of brain tumours
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Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Gemma, 29, from Stourbridge, West Mids., 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.

“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.

“Riley always wanted to help people. After he died, so many people told me about how caring he was.”

Riley loved everything about Christmas
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Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Riley’s health initially went down hill just before Christmas 2019 when he struggled to hold his pen at school and Gemma took him to their GP
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Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Riley’s health initially went down hill just before Christmas 2019 when he struggled to hold his pen at school and Gemma took him to their GP.

Gemma, who is no longer with Scott, said: “They said his symptoms were stress-related, or possibly a trapped nerve.

“We were sent away and told to come back in a few weeks’ time for a blood test, if he was no better, which we did.”

Riley’s teachers also noticed his tremor was causing him to struggle to write and they contacted Gemma to say they were worried about his mental health.

Riley’s teachers also noticed his tremor was causing him to struggle to write and they contacted Gemma to say they were worried about his mental health
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Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)


Riley’s prognosis remained stark, so Gemma and Scott began researching alternative treatment options overseas.
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Image:

Brain Tumour Research / SWNS)

Gemma, an admin assistant, added: “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’s prognosis remained stark, so Gemma and Scott began researching alternative treatment options overseas.

They found a private clinic in Germany which made peptide vaccines which could extend Riley’s life at a cost of £55,000.

Despite a fundraising drive, Riley became too ill and in May doctors delivered the heartbreaking news that the cancer had spread.

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

Riley pictured with Dad Scott

“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 because it was not certified by the NHS.

She said: “It was completely shattering. 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.

“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.”

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer in the UK.

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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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