A reception in honour of a two-year-old who died of neuroblastoma in 2022 has been held at Holyrood.
Matthew Innes, from Argyll and Bute, was diagnosed with stage four, high-risk neuroblastoma in March 2021.
The condition is a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer.
Despite 18 months of treatment and achieving remission in August 2022, Matthew relapsed and passed away in November 2022 at just two years old.
On Tuesday, his family met with others affected by the condition across Scotland at a reception in Holyrood hosted by Rona Mackay, the MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden.
Neuroblastona UK took the opportunity to call for MSPs to ensure childhood cancer is recognised as a critical research priority in Scotland.
Guests included clinicians and researchers, who heard Mackay pledge support to push the campaign forward.
Matthew’s constituency MSP, Jenni Minto, minister for public health and women’s health, also attended.
She said: “You are all here to help us try and make change happen. By hearing your stories, my fellow ministers and I can learn more about the impact of a childhood cancer diagnosis on a family and their whole community.”
Friends of Matthew’s family Stuart Carmichael and Sarah Keating, firefighters at Appin Firestation, shared words from Matthew’s mum, Carolyn Brown.
Ms Brown said: “Matthew could light up any room he was in. His smile was full of nonsense and mischief. He is the bravest person I know and fought so hard! He will forever be our shining star.”
Teenager Phoebe Macaskill, from Abriachan, also shared her own experience with the condition.
The 17-year-old said: “I am a neuroblastoma survivor and my family would say, a miracle. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the wonderful care of the NHS and the incredible research carried out by Neuroblastoma UK into this awful disease which cruelly takes too many young lives.”
Dr Dermot Murphy, paediatric oncologist at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow called on MSPs to ensure childhood cancer remains a priority for the Scottish Government.
He said: “We have a lot to be proud of in Scotland. We are the first of the four devolved nations – and the only nation – to have a Childhood Cancer Strategy but we must work together to make sure this strategy delivers.”
The event closed with Rona leading a Moment of Reflection to remember Matthew and children lost to neuroblastoma as part of the charity’s Glow Gold Reflection Day.
Dr Kate Wheeler, paediatric oncologist and Trustee at Neuroblastoma UK who spoke at the reception said: “We look forward to joining with MSPs to raise awareness of neuroblastoma, not just during September, but in the future.
“This room is filled with a diverse group of people who share one aim – to find a cure for neuroblastoma. Together we can fund more research and help save more young lives.”
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