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Doctors thought our healthy happy little boy was suffering from constipation, weeks later we were taking him home from hospital to die

Wales Online logo Wales Online 11/06/2019 Laura Clements

Sometimes, Nik and Helen Allebon pay for the food of the complete stranger sitting behind them in the queue at their local McDonalds' drive-thru.

They don't want thanks and they don't want recognition.

It might seem like a random act of kindness, but there is a heartbreaking reason behind their motives.

"It might seem like a selfless act, but really it's entirely for us," said Nik, 32, a softly spoken man, who lives in Llandaf North, Cardiff with wife Helen, daughter Sofie and son Bodhi.

"It's a way to keep Logan in our lives and to make us feel better."

Logan was their son. He was just four years old when he died on October 14, 2018. Just weeks before he was a happy healthy four-year-old.

"He just loved dogs, like any kid, and would sit out in the front garden watching them walk past," said mum Helen.

"Every morning, we would set off for school and walk the short distance to Gabalfa Primary School."

a little girl holding a dog: Before he died from an aggressive form of brain cancer, Logan Allebon loved watching dogs being walked in the park

Before he died from an aggressive form of brain cancer, Logan Allebon loved watching dogs being walked in the park
© Nik and Helen Allebon

But at the beginning of the summer term, he started asking if he could be driven to school.

"He couldn't say he had a headache, so he said his neck hurt," explained 40-year-old Helen.

"And he said his legs didn't work properly."

They took Logan to the doctor and he was diagnosed with acute constipation.

The GP attributed his suppressed appetite and slight wobble when he walked to the same thing.

But Logan didn't get any better through the summer and started being sick.

"It was during the heatwave, so we just thought he was struggling in the heat," said Helen, who was pregnant with the couples' third child at the time.

Their daughter, Sofie, 20, was just about to start a foundation course at college.

Nik, who works at Lush UK, had Googled his son's symptoms and the search returned something more sinister than mere constipation.

"It suggested a brain tumour, but then again, that's Google for you - you type in your symptoms and it nearly always comes back with cancer," said Nik.

a man and a woman smiling and posing for the camera: Sofie, left, Helen, middle, Logan, right, and Nik, top, on a family day out

Sofie, left, Helen, middle, Logan, right, and Nik, top, on a family day out
© Nik and Helen Allebon

In an attempt to cheer up Logan, Nik suggested a baking session, usually one of Logan's favourite activities, but his son was completely disinterested.

"He couldn't even stand up on a chair and hold on to the side without ending up in tears," remembered Nik. That's when they took him to hospital.

The doctor who saw Logan could tell he was a poorly child.

"They just had to take a look at him to see something was badly wrong, so they admitted him that night," Nik said.

The next day Doctor Siske Struik watched Logan wobble across the ward, and said he needed an urgent brain scan.

On Monday, August 13, a CT scan confirmed Logan had a golf ball-sized tumour on his brain.

Emergency surgery to remove the tumour was carried out three days later.

The mass was diagnosed as Medulloblastoma - a cancerous tumour that usually affects the cerebellum and can spread to the rest of the brain and/or the spinal cord.

The couple didn't know it at the time, but that would be the last time they heard Logan speak.

"He smiled at us, and managed to say mummy and daddy, but he never really spoke again after that," said Helen, who gave birth to Bodhi, a little brother to Logan and Sofie, just twelve days after Logan's operation.

A series of complications after the surgery, including meningitis and norovirus, as well as the maximum possible dose of radiotherapy, meant Logan never fully recovered.

While the operation to remove the tumour had gone as well as doctors hoped, a second scan three weeks later confirmed the worst.

The cancer had returned and this time it had spread.

"We had another MRI scan done and you could see the shadow of the tumour," said Nik.

"It was in the void where the tumour had been and it was all around the brain. It was all the way down his spinal cord and there was so much of it, some had dropped off the bottom and was just floating around at the base of his spine."

The couple were faced with an impossible decision. Their son would surely die without continued radiotherapy treatment, yet with it, he would live for maybe a month more.

For Helen, one look at the MRI scan convinced her to bring their son home to die in peace.

a little girl smiling at the camera: Helen is raising money for Brain Tumour Research and Support after finding out 30 children are diagnosed with brain tumours in Wales every year © Nik and Helen Allebon Helen is raising money for Brain Tumour Research and Support after finding out 30 children are diagnosed with brain tumours in Wales every year a little girl that is sitting in the grass: 'We want people to know about Logan - it's a way of keeping him in our life' © Nik and Helen Allebon 'We want people to know about Logan - it's a way of keeping him in our life'

Logan came home on September 26. Doctors though he wouldn't last the week. He gave up his brave fight on October 14.

It was just nine weeks after the original diagnosis and all the while, the family said they were overwhelmed by the support and guidance they received from Noah's Ark and Welsh children's cancer charity LATCH.

"They were beyond invaluable, from sourcing financial support, to organising us a caravan to get away from after his death, to just being there as someone to vent and cry to," said Nik, who is walking 100km on the Cotswold Way to raise money for the charity.

Around 30 children in Wales are diagnosed with brain cancer each year.

"When you hear that, it doesn't sound like that many," said Helen. "But actually, if you think about it, it's a whole classroom of kids."

It's why the couple are speaking out about Logan, Nik said. They want people to be aware of the symptoms, like persistent headaches, balance problems, sickness or behaviour change and to keep the possibility of brain cancer in the back of their minds.

They don't blame anyone for their son's diagnosis, but they have since delivered posters to the GP surgery which highlight the symptoms of Medulloblastoma.

Less than 2% of cancer funding is used for research into brain cancer, said Helen, who has started collecting recyclable products to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Research and Support.

"I am asking people to either let me pick up or send me their discarded baby food pouches and dog and cat food pouches, so I can send them off to raise funds for the charity," she explained.

So far, the charity has raised more than £52,000 across the UK from recycling items not usually recycled by councils - enough to fund 17 days of research into brain tumours.

The couple have also set up a Facebook page called Love from Logan , where they help spread random acts of kindness in Logan's memory.

"We want people to know about Logan - it's a way of keeping him in our life," Helen said.

"It's a place to share the random acts of kindness carried out in Logan's name, so that despite leaving us way too soon he can still spread his love."

You can donate to Nik's Cotswold Way Challenge for Latch here .

For more information about brain tumours and early diagnosis, visit the Headstart website .

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