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Best friends’ reunion scuppered by coronavirus crisis after cancer fight

PUBLISHED: 13:53 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:53 07 May 2020

Best friends Lucas and Oliver from Bury St Edmunds have both experienced isolation while battling cancer  Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

Best friends Lucas and Oliver from Bury St Edmunds have both experienced isolation while battling cancer Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

CANCER RESEARCH UK

Two brave best friends from Bury St Edmunds who have both battled cancer have given their advice to those struggling with coronavirus isolation.

The pair, both 12, play football for the same team and are friends at school  Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UKThe pair, both 12, play football for the same team and are friends at school Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

Both Oliver Doughty and Lucas Newton know the hardships of isolation, having been forced apart by the risk of infection after chemotherapy – but the pair have learned how to stay together when the pressures of the world keep them apart.

The two 12-year-old school friends and football team mates have both battled the disease, with Lucas having been given the all clear after suffering from Burkitt lymphoma – while Oliver is half-way through a three-year treatment plan for lymphoblastic leukaemia under the care of Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Separated off the pitch by their football allegiances, the Manchester City and Spurs fans came together to support each other through their treatment and were due to meet up again after being given the go-ahead by the hospital – but their reunion plans have been scuppered by coronavirus.

Undeterred by longer separation, the boys have continued regular video calls and chats, while dads Chris Doughty and Scott Newton have devised a way to let them play a virtual keepie uppie challenge in their gardens.

Oliver is calling on others to support Race for Life at Home to help battle cancer  Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UKOliver is calling on others to support Race for Life at Home to help battle cancer Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

Oliver, who is due to finish his treatment in April next year, said: “Lucas is my best friend, we have known each other for ages, we play in the same football team and, since we both got diagnosed, we have become even closer.

“Isolation is difficult but you just have to keep busy, learn something new, like another language. I go into the garden and play football a lot, I’ve been practising and I have reached 100 and it’s good to know that Lucas is also doing the same in his garden.”

Lucas said: “Oliver is my best friend, he knew what was happening when I went through cancer and he was someone I could talk to about things that no-one else understood.

“It was bad that we both had cancer but at least we went through it together and helped each other.

Lucas received the all clear last year after fighting Burkitt lymphoma  Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UKLucas received the all clear last year after fighting Burkitt lymphoma Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

“If it wasn’t for coronavirus we would be playing football together and hopefully we can do so again soon. The best advice for isolation is just to keep yourself busy, do anything to stop yourself getting bored, you have just got to find something to do and make sure you do it.”

Oliver’s dad Chris, who works as a prison officer, said the pair being separated further because of Covid-19 is “heart-breaking”.

Mr Doughty added: “The boys have coped amazingly well and are still the best of friends - nothing will break the strong bond between them, not cancer or coronavirus. The way they have coped is a lesson for all of us, especially in this current climate.

“We are all in isolation because of coronavirus and it’s only now that you really get to appreciate how difficult if must have been for the boys being apart for so long. They didn’t complain, they just got on with it and, If they can do it, then we can do it too and stay in isolation.”

Lucas, a Tottenham Hotspur fan, with Spurs and England striker Harry Kane  Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UKLucas, a Tottenham Hotspur fan, with Spurs and England striker Harry Kane Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

Lucas’ dad Scott said hearing the news of the pair’s diagnosis was something no parents should ever have to hear.

Mr Newton, also a prison officer, said: “We are all so very proud of them both. Lucas and Oliver are friends for life.

“When both boys were diagnosed with cancer it left us all in complete shock. For it to happen to two lads who have been best mates for years is beyond words.

“When Lucas got ill, there we were in the same hospital with Oli next to him. They used to talk about their treatment and help each other which was fantastic but also quite shocking when you hear your 12-year-old son and his best friend talking about cancer as if it was normal, it’s not something any parent wants to hear.”

Oliver, a Manchester City fan, during his chemotherapy  Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UKOliver, a Manchester City fan, during his chemotherapy Picture: CANCER RESEARCH UK

Both boys will be taking part in their own Race for Life at Home challenge this month in a bid to raise much needed funds for Cancer Research UK, who have been forced to cancel or postpone its famous Race for Life events up and down the country as a result of the ongoing crisis.

Patrick Keely, Cancer Research UK spokesman, said: “These two best friends have been through so much together and there is a lesson there for all of us in this current difficult time about staying in touch, friendship and helping each other cope during difficult times.

“At a time when it feels like everything is at a standstill, there is one thing that hasn’t stopped - cancer. Our priority as a charity is ensuring that people affected by cancer are getting the support they need right now.

“Cancer is still happening right now and we want to do everything we can to help give people more tomorrows with their loved ones.

“At a time when we’re having to keep apart from each other, there is still a way to unite. We’re urging everyone who has supported Race for Life in the past to please continue supporting us. Sadly, cancer touches almost every family at some time.”

Those who wish to donate or host their own challenge should visit here or call 0300 123 0770.


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