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Jacob wins his battle with the ‘blood goblin’

By Connor Thompson

Jacob Bannister poses as a victorious warrior at Burghley House
Jacob Bannister poses as a victorious warrior at Burghley House

Six-year-old Jacob Bannister celebrated winning his battle against leukaemia with a spectacular photoshoot at Burghley House.

The youngster, who was diagnosed on Christmas Eve in 2012 and began his treatment on Christmas Day, has just finished three years and four months of gruelling treatment.

Jacob rings the End of Treatment Bell with help from mum Eleanor
Jacob rings the End of Treatment Bell with help from mum Eleanor

Jacob was only three when he became ill, so to help him understand the situation parents Spencer Bannister, 33, and Eleanor Massey, 32, explained the cancer was like a goblin in his blood.

During his treatment, injections were stabbing the ‘blood goblin’, chemotherapy was poisoning him and a syringe of medicine taken orally was a snake which slithered around inside looking for it.

Eleanor said: “When first diagnosed, Jacob knew he was unwell, but was not old enough to understand exactly what was going on.

“One day I was thinking how to help him with this and I remembered he had been talking about a ‘naughty goblin’ when some keys went missing.

“We decided to use the blood goblin analogy – Jacob was a warrior who had to defeat it.

“It became a game which we stuck to throughout the three years and so when Jacob came to the end of his treatment I decided to arrange a photoshoot of him posing as a victorious warrior.”

Jacob, a pupil at The Bythams Primary School in Little Bytham, has two sisters – Lucy, four, and Mary, two. The family live in Creeton, near Castle Bytham.

Eleanor contacted Peterborough-based photographer Dan Waters for help with the photoshoot and he kindly agreed to do it for free.

She added: “I wanted it to look a bit like a scene from the film 300 [in which King Leonidas of Sparta and a force of 300 men fight the Persians in 480 BC] and Dan did a great job.

“We approached Burghley House for permission to do the shoot and they were really helpful and allowed us into areas not usually accessible to the public so we could get the shot just right.

“The backdrop was perfect and I’m really happy with the photo, as is Jacob. We are going to get it printed and framed and hang it on his bedroom wall.”

The family were living in central Manchester when Jacob’s leukaemia was diagnosed and he began his treatment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital under the care of consultant paediatric haematologist Professor Robert Wynn.

After sensing Jacob would be healthier and happier living in the countryside, the family moved to Creeton just under two years ago.

Jacob continued his treatment at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and it finally came to an end on April 30. To mark the achievement, Jacob returned to Manchester and rang the hospital’s End of Treatment Bell.

Eleanor added: “Although we moved away from the area, we are all still close to the staff at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. They are all amazing people – especially Robert Wynn.

“Seeing Jacob ring the bell, after such a long period of treatment, was an amazing moment and very emotional.”

Jacob will have regular check-ups to ensure he is still healthy and will not be officially in the clear until five years after his final treatment.But as far as his family are concerned, he has won the battle.

Eleanor has started a blog about Jacob’s treatment which she hopes may be of use to other families. It can be found at www.bloodgoblin.co.uk


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