A Rugby father is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity in honour of his one-year-old son who struggles with a rare and life-threatening disease.
Carl Lopeman, of Bilton Road, will climb Africa’s highest mountain at some time next year to raise money for Histio UK – a charity which funds research into Langerhans cell histiocytosis.
Mr Lopeman’s son, Albie, was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) in August.
Mr Lopeman’s wife and Albie’s mother, Rebecca Headley, said: “Several months before his diagnosis Albie had changed from a normal, happy boy to a completely different child, a child who shied away from any contact, interaction or activity.
“Only later did we realise it was because he was in almost constant pain and discomfort.
“In Albie’s case the damage is to his skin and bones, and he is currently undergoing his second round of chemotherapy.
“The LCH is still evident in his scans and tests and he will continue to receive intervention, but the treatment he has already received has been life-changing – he is now starting to enjoy the life he has missed out on for the past 12 months.”
Mr Lopeman recalled the night Albie was diagnosed with LCH.
He said: “They said he would need a CT scan.
“It’s hard to stand back and watch your little boy being put in this massive machine.
“You see it on Casualty, they lead people into a room and tell them there’s bad news.
“When the doctor was speaking it was all a blur.”
He said the devastation was made worse as the couple had twins who had been born prematurely and were receiving treatment at the same time.
LCH has cancer-like characteristics but it can spontaneously resolve in some patients while being life-threatening in others.
LCH is classed as a cancer and sometimes requires treatment with chemotherapy (as in Albie’s case). The vast majority of children recover completely from LCH.
Langerhans cells are a kind of white blood cell which normally help the body fight infection. In LCH, too many Langerhans cells are produced and build up in parts of the body where they can form tumours or damage organs.
The cause of this disease is unknown – although theories include viruses, exposure to toxins in the environment, family history and geography.
It occurs in one in 200,000 children and between one and two in every two million in newborns and very young infants.
Mr Lopeman and five friends and relatives hope to raise £30,000 for Histio UK by climbing the mountain.
They have already raised £1,320. To donate or learn more visit: goo.gl/zga7Xq