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Stars and Santa in Lapland help heal Callum's nightmare

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 25, 2013

  • Unforgettable: Callum pictured with actress Denise Welch and Sky Sports' Chris Kamara, top, and sharing a joke with Santa, above

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As he stepped off the plane and took in the magical landscape of Lapland, schoolboy Callum Smith felt a million miles from where he was last Christmas.

Twelve months ago, the brave 11-year-old was in the middle of gruelling treatment for a brain tumour.

He endured radiotherapy, chemotherapy and two major operations.

Now, the When You Wish Upon a Star charity has taken him and mum Emma Smith on a festive trip of a lifetime.

Reflecting on how life had changed, Emma said: "Those two months over Christmas last year, I don't know how we did it.

"I don't know how we got through trying to have a good Christmas, he was on his chemotherapy until about a week before Christmas so he was quite poorly."

Callum's battle started in May last year, when he began coming home from school suffering from headaches and sickness.

"He had a couple of trips to the hospital and they thought it was a virus," said Emma.

"It was going on and on, but then one day he collapsed at home and had a seizure."

Callum was rushed to Lincoln County Hospital, and transferred to Sheffield Children's Hospital for scans.

But after an operation to remove 70 per cent of what doctors thought was a benign tumour, they discovered it was cancerous.

It meant just six weeks later Callum had to face another major operation to remove the rest, along with tough rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

It meant he missed out on weeks of teaching at St Peter at Gowts Church of England Primary School.

"That's when it upset him the most, as he knew he would have to go through the operation again," mum Emma said.

"He was ever so poorly. The radiotherapy alone has big side effects, it can make them really nauseous and very tired."

Being treated in Sheffield uprooted normal family life.

Mum and Callum had a two-month stay in a halfway house while his eight-year-old sister Chloe lived with grandparents.

However they battled through and Callum finished treatment in June this year.

His last two quarterly scans show his condition is stable – which means this Christmas couldn't be any more different for the family.

And to mark Callum's recovery, the mother and son were whisked away to Lapland with a group of children on December 10, by charity When You Wish Upon a Star.

"I didn't know anything about the trip until I got like a compliments slip saying, 'we have been trying to contact you about taking Callum to Lapland," added Emma.

"He is not on any medication but there are children who are probably on oxygen and need medication.

"The way they plan it all, there must be so much that goes into it."

The pair were driven to Humberside airport and flown to Lapland and back in a specially chartered plane.

Celebrities and soap stars stayed with the group throughout the day, and the children were filmed as they visited Santa's village and enjoyed husky dog sleigh rides.

"I felt like I was a celebrity, I didn't know what to say," Callum said.

Gemma Summerfield, fundraising assistant for When You Wish Upon a Star, said: "The trip builds their Christmas spirit and puts a whole new meaning to Christmas for them. We have some absolutely amazing volunteers across Lincolnshire.

"We rely on those volunteers to help us keep providing those individual wishes throughout the year."

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