Cured by magic!

Did my little Lewis have a trick up his sleeve to survive his cancer?

Published by: Jai Breitnauer and Kim Noble
Published on: 12th April 2010

Biting into a cheese and pickle sandwich, I smiled at my hubby Jason. ‘It’s so nice when you pop home for lunch,’ I said.
‘Well tonight’s busy, Lewis has boxing at six, so I thought we could catch up now,’ he said.
‘What with fishing, swimming and boxing, that boy never stops,’ I agreed. Our nine-year-old son was certainly sporty.
In the hallway, the phone started ringing. Me and Jason looked at each other nervously. Was it the call we’d been waiting for?
‘I’ll get it,’ said Jason.
Three weeks ago, we’d found a pea-sized lump on Lewis’ right shoulder. Our doctor had sent him for tests. We’d been dreading the call with his scan results.
‘No!’ Jason was saying. ‘You’re sure? It must be a mistake…’
‘Was it the hospital?’ I panicked.
He nodded.
‘Is it…?’ but my tears cut
me short.
‘Cancer…’ finished Jason. ‘It’s cancer.’
Lewis had a rare bone cancer in his collarbone called Ewing’s sarcoma – only 30 kids a year got it.
Maybe it wasn’t as serious as it sounded…
Sadly, it was.
At University College Hospital, London, the consultant gently explained everything to Lewis.
‘We’ll give you some high doses of chemotherapy,’ she told him. ‘It’ll make you sick – but you have to be ill before we can make you better.’
Lewis nodded. Suddenly, he looked much older than nine.
He hadn’t cried once.
‘Let’s just get on with it,’ he said, bravely.
The first round of chemo hit him hard.
Even though he was allowed home, he couldn’t get off the sofa. His brown hair fell out, and his eyes lost their sparkle.
Three weeks later, we were back at hospital.
Lewis was flat on his back, with dark circles under his eyes as doctors pumped yet more chemicals into him.
‘I’m so bored,’ he complained next day, flicking through endless TV channels from his hospital bed. ‘I want to do something, but I can’t even get out of bed.’
I sent Jason a text – Hamleys
toy store is up the road, can you buy Lewis a game?
Half an hour later, Jason was sitting next to Lewis with a big box of magic tricks. But I wasn’t sure Lewis was into magic.
Just then, a nurse came over. ‘There’s a magic show on the ward this afternoon – want to come?’
‘Sure, I can get some tips,’ Lewis grinned.
We sat with him as the magician did the old favourites, made flowers appear and coins disappear.
‘How does he do that?’ Lewis whispered, as the magician made a ball vanish from under three cups.
‘He’s distracted you,’ Jason whispered. ‘You think you know what’s going on, but you don’t.’
I slapped Jason on the arm. ‘No, it’s magic,’ I smiled.
Lewis rolled his eyes. ‘Mum, I’m not five,’ he snorted.
After the show, the magician sat with Lewis and showed him how the tricks in the Hamleys box worked.
‘With this, make sure the ace of spades is always four cards down…’
‘Four cards down…’ Lewis repeated, frowning. ‘Okay, can you show me the flower trick next?’
Within an hour, he’d mastered all of the tricks.
‘What’s that behind your ear, Mum?’ he smiled, producing a coin.
‘How’d you do that?’ I laughed.
His hospital gown’s sleeves were too short to hide anything.
‘Magic!’ he smiled, his eyes twinkling with delight.
A few days later, when he felt better, he tried out his tricks on his brother Joe and sister Vickie-Jane. Then he went to the beds of the kids who had been too sick to see the magic show.
‘Now I’ll tap the pack of cards…’ he beamed.
‘Wow,’ they cheered as the ace appeared to the top of the pack.
My heart burst watching my sick little lad cheering up the other children.
Back home, if he wasn’t trawling the internet for more tricks, he was practising them and seemed to forget all about his illness.
Three weeks later, packing his bag again for chemo, the magic tricks were the first to go in.
In September 2008, he had surgery to remove a collarbone.
‘We don’t know how much movement he’ll have in his right arm after,’ the surgeon warned.
As soon as Lewis came round, he reached for his pack of cards. No trouble at all!
Magic always lifted his spirits, no matter how much pain he was in.
‘I want to do a show to raise money for charity,’ he told us.
We hired a hall, and organised some other local acts. For weeks, he practised – the perfect way to make him feel better.
‘Bed time,’ I whispered, a few days before the gig that November.
‘I just want to get this one right,’ he muttered, practising the cup and ball trick he’d seen the magician do. It was difficult, but it fascinated him. He was determined to perfect it.
The day of the show was also his last day of chemo. ‘All done,’ he croaked when I collected him.
‘Before we get going…’ and I handed him my surprise package.
‘I thought you might need a costume for tonight.’
With a look of wonder, he pulled out a stripy suit jacket and a trilby hat. ‘Thanks! This is brill!’
Despite feeling terrible from his chemo, Lewis performed to a packed hall.
As he waved his wand, you would have expected him to wobble, weak from the treatment, but he was great – as strong as ever.
That’s my boy!
The show raised a staggering £21,000 for various charities including the Bone Cancer Research Trust, Padua Ward and University College Hospital children’s ward.
That night, as I tucked him into bed, he couldn’t stop smiling, even though he was exhausted.
‘That was wicked!’ he laughed. ‘I want to be a proper magician when I grow up.’
Even after the chemo had finished, he kept up with his new hobby, taking regular classes with magician Etienne Pradier. He often put on charity gigs, too.
Lewis even did a show at the Marriot Hotel, London, a year after his treatment ended.
I was a nervous wreck, but he was as cool and calm as a pro.
Well, I suppose when you’ve faced cancer, facing an audience isn’t quite so scary.
Lewis is in remission and now a member of the Magic Circle – the association for professional magicians. Magic is his life.
He’s doing lots of gigs, and regularly puts on shows for kids in the hospital cancer ward.
One night, watching him perform, I couldn’t stop smiling.
‘What’s wrong?’ whispered Jason, leaning over to me.
‘It’s just so nice to see these sick youngsters laughing,’ I said.
‘And it’s all thanks to Lewis,’ he agreed.
‘At least this way he can show these kids there is a chance they’ll get better,’ I smiled, sadly.
On the way home, Lewis turned to me. ‘Sometimes, magic really is the best medicine,’ he smiled.
You only have to look at my lad to know he’s right.
Vickie Fuller, 40, Biddenden, Kent