Brave Overton schoolboy faces up to terminal cancer diagnosis

Rachel O'Neil and son Reece Holt.
Rachel O'Neil and son Reece Holt.
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Overton schoolboy Reece Holt goes public today to announce his brain cancer is terminal.

The 12-year-old has revealed the devastating news on his Facebook charity page, Team Reece.

Reece Holt, from Overton, who is battling brain cancer.

Reece Holt, from Overton, who is battling brain cancer.

But in true Reece fashion it’s business as usual for the Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupil as he continues to help other children with cancer.

“I’m sorry, there’s not much more we can do for your child.”

No parent should ever have to hear these heart-wrenching words but mum Rachel O’Neil is preparing to face them.

Reece Holt has a rare form of brain cancer which is now terminal.

For nearly two years he has battled Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a malignant tumour that affects only about 10 children a year.

But the schoolboy is smiling on as he continues to help others with his charity Team Reece – our chosen charity for our Sunshine Awards this year.

“It makes me more determined to make a change in the world of childhood cancer,” said Rachel.

“When Reece was first diagnosed I started to grieve straight away but I had to have a word to myself, I will have plenty of time for that afterwards, right now I need to be strong for my family.

“I hope for the best, I have to prepare for the worst. We are not looking at life extension now, we are looking at Reece’s quality of life.

“Everybody is upset the immunotherapy has not worked.

“We did have an inkling it may not work but now it is the unknown, nobody knows what’s going on until we sit down and have this consultation.”

The immunotherapy treatment was a new trial to boost Reece’s immune system after his tumour came back last August.

But the treatment was causing severe seizures for Reece who could have up to 22 in one day – so the youngster decided to stop the trial.

“Reece felt daily seizures really weren’t worth it,” said Rachel.

“While Reece’s most recent MRI scan was reported as stable, there was some growth of his tumour which means that ultimately the immunotherapy has done all it can.”

Reece and his family are due to visit Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where he has been receiving treatment, to discuss his next steps.

The news has had a big effect on the family including Reece’s younger brother,


“Callum doesn’t say much, it has affected him quite deeply,” said Rachel.

“It is very hard for him having to still go to school, his life carries on in that respect, sometimes he does feel very isolated so I do make sure I have days out with just me and him.”

Following the terminal diagnosis, Reece and Rachel are continuing to work hard for their charity, Team


“Reece has grown up fast, it has stolen his childhood in many ways, I see that in every child fighting cancer,” said Rachel.

“They all have an overwhelming sense of wanting to help others, a real sense of empathy.

“I always find one thing true, they are always more worried about everyone else and what they can do to help others.

“They should be worrying about not wanting to do their homework or when they can play out until, but they

push the boundaries in every way.”