Jacob Butler, from Tunbridge Wells on stage at Gig For Life

Despite being just nine, brave Jacob Butler will be on stage with some of the biggest names in music at next month's Gig for Life at the Hop Farm.

The youngster from Tunbridge Wells certainly deserves his day in the spotlight after batting back from cancer - and for proud parents Liz and James it will be a sight they feared they may never see.

When Jacob was just three he caught chickenpox. It affected him badly, robbing him of energy and leaving him totally exhausted on a family break in France.

On holiday in the south of France

On holiday in the south of France

His favourite memory from the holiday - lying in the hot tub at night and looking at the stars - was to prove to a pivotal point in getting him through what was to come.

After the holiday, Jacob caught tonsillitis and when he still wasn’t well enough to go to nursery school in September Liz took him to the doctor.

This led to a hospital referral where it was revealed that Jacob’s spleen was dangerously increasing in size. He has immediately sent to the Royal Marsden in Sutton for a blood transfusion.

Jacob during Chemotherapy in 2010

Jacob during Chemotherapy in 2010

Soon after, it was confirmed that Jacob had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.

To make delivering Jacob’s treatment less traumatic, doctors inserted a portacath. However, in recovery there was another setback when he had an allergic reaction to the tube and this left him struggling to breathe.

Liz said: “Jacob remembers this as the first time he thought he was going to die,”.

“During his treatment, there were times I just couldn’t believe he had cancer because his spirit and energy did not wane. He was still insisting on wearing his Superman suit to leap off the bed, regardless of how many IV’s he had in his tiny little hand. And he used the little trolley that had his IV pump on it as a scooter!”

During his treatment, Jacob’s grandad died of bowel cancer which was another body blow to the youngster as the pair had been so close.

Jacob and his brothers will be on stage at Gig For Life

Jacob and his brothers will be on stage at Gig For Life

Jacob finished the intensive phase of his treatment in summer 2011, and the family headed off on holiday to the Lake District with the aim of climbing Scafell Pike - England's tallest mountain. Sadly on the day Jacob wasn’t strong enough to meet the challenge and had to stay behind.

For Jacob, the next two years were full of hospital visits and high dose chemo - all of which took a heavy toll on his moods and body. But in January 2014, Jacob completed his treatment and the one thing he wanted to do was return to the south of France to relive his memories of looking at the starry skies from the hot tub.

“It had been a special place for us,” said Liz.

“We had, in our darkest hours – quite literally – talked and re-lived being there. When we finally got there, it was an emotionally-charged, fabulous time with all our friends who had supported us.“

By the time summer 2015 had come around, Jacob was ready to take on Scafell Pike, and the family returned to the Lake District for a holiday.

After beating cancer, Jacob mad it to the top of Scafell Pike

After beating cancer, Jacob mad it to the top of Scafell Pike

Liz said: “Jacob was the one who wanted to do it. He wanted to help children with cancer as he understood how hard it was and he wanted raise money for those who are still poorly. Typically, that day he woke up with a spiked temperature, but nothing was going to stop him.

“It was a good six-hour walk and by the time we got to the top, Jacob was exhausted. There were tears running down his face and he was crying with exhaustion, but he was determined to get to the top. He said, 'Mum, we have been through harder than this.' His brothers helped drag him up and in the end we made it.

“It was an amazing family moment. It felt very similar to the journey we had been through. It was seriously hard work physically and emotionally, and it was just grit that got us there.”

Since then, Jacob has caught up on his school work and is looking forward to going up on stage at Gig for Life along with his brothers Ollie, 14, and Joe, 13.

The boys will be joining the likes of 10cc, Toploader, Maverick Sabre and Los Pacaminos, fronted by Paul Young on stage and all proceeds from the event will go to Cancer Research UK.

I am deeply proud of Jacob and his brothers. James and I are still married and good friends – and our family time will always be cherished.

It will be a great day. The boys are excited about going – we all are. And they are especially looking forward to going up on stage.

I hope hearing Jacob’s story will help people realise that the money raised at events like this, goes towards funding research in the future. We are grateful for the treatment Jacob was able to have – it saved his life.

Supporting Gig for Life means other people will be able to have better, kinder treatments in the future. And of course you will have a fantastic, musical day out at the same time. It’s a family event, so bring the whole family and enjoy just being together – make some memories!
— Jacob's Mum Liz

Ashley Rushman

Amber Creative Ltd, Chequers Barn, Bough Beech, Edenbridge, TN8 7PD

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