In loving memory of Jacob Marsland 

In January 2007, Jacob began to experience severe stomach pains which were thought to be caused by a stomach bug, virus or food poisoning. When the stomach pains were replaced by a limp which became excruciatingly painful, Jacob was admitted to his local hospital. Over a two month period, Jacob was diagnosed with a septic hip and treated with antibiotics and painkillers. After being admitted to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, further scans, including an MIBG scan, discovered a large growth near Jacob’s abdomen. Jacob was subsequently diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, which meant his cancer had spread to distant lymph nodes, bone, and bone marrow.

Jacob smiling at the camera

Jacob began his treatment with intensive chemotherapy which unfortunately had little effect on his cancer. This delayed the surgery to remove his primary tumour and required alternative treatment. In an attempt to clear his bone marrow of neuroblastoma, Jacob received internal radioactive MIBG therapy at London University Hospital. This treatment was successful at targeting and removing large patches of neuroblastoma cells from Jacob’s body, meaning he was able to receive surgery to remove his primary tumour.

In December 2007, Jacob received a stem cell transplant at Alder Hey Hospital. This was followed by the news in January that while Jacob’s bone marrow was clear, the treatment had not completely removed the cancer in Jacob’s bones themselves. At this time, Jacob also had an infection in his Hickman line and a severe allergic reaction to the only antibiotic used to combat the particular infection.

In February 2008, after some further scans, it was thought that Jacob had a late response to the chemotherapy and he received surgery to remove his tumour. Further testing continued to show that Jacob’s bone marrow was free of neuroblastoma. Jacob was able to continue his treatment with high dose chemotherapy, daily injections of the GCSF drug to stimulate his immune system, and a stem cell transplant. Jacob developed mucositis as a result of the high dose chemotherapy treatment – inflammation of the mucous membranes lining his digestive tract and therefore had to be fed through his Hickman line for a few weeks, followed feeding through a nasal tube.

In May 2008, Jacob began a three-week course of radiotherapy at Clatterbridge Hospital, Merseyside, followed by a six-month course of oral chemotherapy. Throughout this treatment, Jacob’s biopsies showed that he was in remission. However, after a routine test in October, the family noticed two small lumps on Jacob’s neck which were immediately investigated in hospital. On 14th October 2008, doctors confirmed that Jacob’s cancer had relapsed and spread to his leg, pelvis, collar bone, lymphatic system, bone marrow and the original tumour site. He immediately started on a new course of chemotherapy which, unfortunately, from scans taken in December, identified that this was not having any effect and the cancer was spreading rapidly to new sites.

With no curative treatment available for Jacob in the UK, the family discussed the possibility of taking him to America for further treatment. Then further tests at Alder Lee Hospital showed that the neuroblastoma had spread into every part of Jacob’s body and his parents realised that the end was near. At this stage, Jacob was too ill to travel anywhere to receive any alternative treatment. Jacob sadly passed away after a very brave battle in the arms of his devastated parents on 9th January 2009.

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