Another Lincolnshire Highlights news story…
A young man who almost died twice as a baby after doctors found a massive tumour on his liver has made his mum ‘incredibly proud’ by graduating from the University of Lincoln.
Richard Jacobs, 22, collected his degree in computer science during a ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral attended by hundreds of fellow graduates on Wednesday, September 11.
His mum Susan Oakes, 54, from Ragnall, near Dunham Bridge, said: “We are incredibly proud of him after all he’s been through.”
She added: “I did not believe the diagnosis when he was a baby. I thought: ‘How can a baby get cancer at 20 weeks old?’.
“There appeared to be nothing wrong with him. He was 20lbs and everyone called him a bonny baby.
“I just thought the doctors had got it wrong.”
Ms Oakes said that Richard, who set up his own computer business Codixy Ltd and has a logistics admin app on the App Store, was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer called hepatoblastoma.
Between 10 and 15 children develop the condition in the UK each year and the average age of children diagnosed is one year.
Ms Oakes said: “It was really weird. I had this voice that kept coming to me saying: ‘Richard is poorly.’.
“I took him to the doctors saying that he had earache and thankfully he was one of those doctors who did a thorough examination.
“He had Richard on the couch and felt a lump straight away and he was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital straight away and a scan revealed the tumour.
“We did not know if he was going to survive when we first got the news.
“They did not initially know what sort of cancer it was or whether they could treat it.”
Ms Oakes said Richard underwent treatment to shrink the tumour before an operation to remove half of his liver.
She said: “He almost died twice – he had septicemia and then his potassium levels went really low.
“He had to have chemotherapy which made him very poorly. It left him hearing impaired and he struggled through school and struggled to accept his hearing loss.
“He got the all-clear from cancer after a few years but because of damage from the chemotherapy he has to have his heart and kidneys checked every two years.
“Each birthday has been a special birthday for Richard.”
Ms Oakes said that Richard lacked confidence growing up but found solace in computing in which he is new forging a career.
She said the timing of his graduation was particularly apt as September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Richard, who is to marry fiancee Olivia in May next year, said: “Graduating at Lincoln Cathedral was quite an amazing experience – it went well.”