When Robbie Keville was 6 years old, he lost his Mummy Kate to breast cancer. For as long as he could remember, she had lived with her illness. As he found school work easy, he decided when she had died that he would like to become a doctor to help people with cancer. However, aged 8, he too was diagnosed with cancer: a malignant brain tumour. Never one to stand back, Robbie decided that the family should do something to help. They asked Southampton Children’s Hospital’s oncology team where their efforts could be best concentrated.
It became apparent that there is a gap in the NHS’s otherwise excellent service for children with brain tumours. Once children have had surgery radiotherapy and chemotherapy, they are discharged home. More often than not, they are in need of a very great deal of rehabilitation. Whilst the rehab offered was of a very good standard, there was no budget for outpatients.
After much fundraising between February 2015 and June 2017, Robbie’s Rehab – the Southampton-based outpatient rehab service for children with brain and spinal tumours – opened. It serves children in the South of England and is a unique charity/NHS partnership. An effective and efficient use of funds, the service has been hailed as a huge success by doctors and nurses. The effects are already being felt by the children and their families and fundraising continues.