Saturday, 22 October 2011

Harry Moseley - An Inspiration

Four years ago a 7 year old boy named Harry Moseley complained of problems with his eyes. The doctor recommended an MRI scan. The results were shared with Harry and at the tender age of 7 Harry was told that he had an inoperable Brain Tumour. He had, what we know as, terminal brain cancer.

Treatment began and Harry started on a course of chemotherapy. The most common side effects of chemotherapy are decreased production of blood cells, inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, and alopecia – hair loss. Harry was only 7 years old.

The chemotherapy did not work so at the age of 9 Harry had to undergo an intense course of Radiotherapy. Side effects of Radiotherapy include severe skin damage such as burning. Other side effects include mouth and throat sores, diarrhoea and nausea. Harry was only 9 years old.

When beginning his radiotherapy treatment Harry met a man named Robert, 55, who also tragically had an inoperable brain tumour. Now a child of 9 years, who had been diagnosed with something so shocking, whose body was being pumped with poison, could be forgiven for feeling nothing but anger. He could be forgiven for feeling unbelievable sadness. However Harry Moseley was no ordinary 9 year old boy. He would not be pushed by his problems, instead he would be led by his dreams.

The day Harry met Robert was the day Harry found his purpose. In 2009 Robert grew steadily more ill, Harry felt compelled to help. Harry started to make and sell beaded bracelets to raise lots of money for brain cancer research to help make him better.

I think back to when I was 9 and I was at primary school. I was 9, I was care free, I had no problems – no issues. My only problem would be if my mum would let me out to play football. I had no reason to be sad, I was 9 after all. If I did get sad it was because my dad wouldn’t let me go to my mates for a sleepover. I look at my 9 year old self and I cannot imagine, nor do I want to, how the 9 year old Harry Moseley felt. More than that though, I cannot imagine being so ill but at the same time being so utterly selfless. In fact my 24 year old self would still struggle with that.

I was an ordinary 9 year old. Harry Moseley however was an extraordinary 9 year old. He realised life is only as good as you want it to be. That’s why instead of feeling sorry for himself, instead of feeling anger he turned to kindness and compassion – two of humanities greatest qualities.

Sadly, four weeks into Harry’s campaign, his friend Robert, died aged just 55. Harry could no longer help Robert but he realised that he could help thousands of others that find themselves in Harry’s position. Steve Jobs once remarked that “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart” and that is exactly what Harry did.

As I write, Harry has raised £500,000 for Brain Cancer Research. Harry is now 11 and is gravely unwell. As an 11 year old Harry should be excited about starting his new school, he ought to be wondering what great friends he is going to make and what experiences he is going to enjoy. Instead Harry lies in a hospital bed, in a coma, fighting for his life.

Four weeks ago, Harry had an operation which reduced the size of his brain tumour by 50%. But as of Wednesday 1 September doctors have confirmed that the tumour is now bigger than before the operation. He also has a lot of swelling around the brain which has prevented him from waking up since the operation. Harry is currently too weak for treatment. I have absolutely no doubt that Harry will continue to fight on. He will wake up. He will celebrate his 12th birthday. As Winston Churchill once remarked ‘If you are going through hell, keep going’ and I have no doubt Harry will keep going.

Harry Moseley ought to be a reminder to us all ‘you don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.’

Albert Schweitzer once said “Do something wonderful, people may imitate it”. Go to Harry’s website and help finish what he has started.

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