Brave Oliver Turner, 5, will lead out Ipswich Town less than a year after cancer diagnosis
- Credit: Archant
A proud dad has heaped praise on his “warrior” of a son who is due to lead out Ipswich Town for their Boxing Day clash at Portman Road today.
Five-year-old Oliver Turner was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour this year, which is a form of kidney cancer in children.
He has since had surgery to remove both the tumour and his kidney and continues with a gruelling plan of chemotherapy – he was even due to have a session yesterday, on Christmas Day.
Oliver, who goes to Westgate Primary School, in Bury St Edmunds, was diagnosed in March. “He ran a mile for charity on the Friday and by the following Friday he had been diagnosed,” said Oliver’s dad Russell Turner, who lives in Hessett and is a lifelong Ipswich Town fan.
After his sessions of chemotherapy at Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Oliver is looked after on the Rainbow Ward at West Suffolk Hospital. It was here he met three Ipswich players during their pre-Christmas visits to the ward.
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Cole Skuse, Tom Lawrence and Bart Bialkowski were so impressed by Oliver they asked if he could lead Ipswich out for their Boxing Day game against Fulham – as part of the club’s community champion project which has been running this season.
Russell said he attended his first game at Portman Road when he was just five-years-old.
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“I cannot believe that I will be able to take Oliver to his first game at the same age,” he said.
“He’s actually going to be walking the team on, I will be so proud of him.
“I have wanted to take him to his first match for so long, but have not been able to due to the last nine months of his treatment. Cancer removes these times and I will never take anything for granted again.”
Jade Cole, who runs Ipswich’s community champion project, said: “Oliver is a real life superhero, inspiring us all as he fights this horrible disease with strength, courage and determination.
“We are very proud of this special little boy and I know the players who met him were so impressed with him. It’s our honour to have him as our community champion.”
Russell added: “I think Oliver himself is a warrior and probably the bravest human being I’ve ever met in my life. He is determined and his strength is what I look to get myself through as a dad. He doesn’t like going to hospital, but for him it’s a rude interruption to his normal life. He’s just so not-worried about what’s going on at the hospital. When he’s not there, he’s a little boy.”
Oliver is due another MRI scan in March to check how effective the chemotherapy has been.
Even if Oliver is too unwell to lead the teams out today, he has been told by the club he can do it when he is well enough.
“He’s so excited,” added Russell. “I think he’s excited because being a little boy, he sees how excited his dad is.”
West Suffolk Hospital is supported by the My WiSH charity.
Its fundraising manager Sue Smith said: “We are overwhelmed each year when the players take time to visit the hospital.
“It really does bring smiles not only to the little ones but some of the big ones too. This year when they met Oliver they wanted to give him a special day. He is one amazing little boy and we all hope him and his dad have a wonderful time.”