A father who feared he may never have more kids after undergoing gruelling chemotherapy for incurable brain cancer is celebrating the arrival of a baby boy.
Neil Taylor, 36, and wife Alex, 28, welcomed their second child Harvey into the world weighing 7lb 3oz on January 6, almost three years after intensive treatment.
Neil was diagnosed with a brain tumour on his left frontal lobe in February 2017 when Alex was 13 weeks pregnant with their first child Annabelle.
He had surgery to debulk the tumour but it was identified as a grade three astrocytoma, which would require further treatment.
He had an intense course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but feared he would not be able to have more children as the treatment can affect fertility in men.
However, the couple were given the best news ever last May when Alex, a solicitor, found out she was pregnant and the couple were blessed with a baby boy.
Neil, a McDonald’s franchise supervisor, said: “We knew the chemotherapy may affect our chances of conceiving again, but despite the odds, we were so pleased when we found out Alex was pregnant again.
“Alex and I were both juggling working from home and childcare for the first part of lockdown, before we were granted a period of furlough leave.
“It was another topsy turvy year but we, like many other families, made the most of the situation and enjoyed spending more time together at home.
“Obviously, going into another lockdown at the beginning of 2021, just before Harvey’s due date, wasn’t ideal but we’re both ecstatic he’s here and he’s healthy and that’s all that matters.”
Neil, whose symptoms were first dismissed as seizures, has to be monitored with routine MRI scans every six months.
His most recent scan results in September 2020 were stable, meaning he can relax for the time being. His next one is scheduled to take place in March.
He added: “It was such a roller-coaster year; experiencing the joy of becoming a dad within months of receiving a devastating brain tumour diagnosis and undergoing major surgery and cancer treatment.
“My last four scans have given really positive results. It’s a massive relief and I feel really well at the moment.
“If I get another stable result, my consultant has talked about reducing the scans to every 12 months, which in a way would be daunting but it would mark fantastic progress too.”
The couple have been fundraising for the charity Brain Tumour Research since 2017 and have raised more than £20,000.
The hope to continue to raise funds to improve treatments for brain tumours, which kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
Neil said: “Fundraising for Brain Tumour Research has provided a great focus for Alex and me since my diagnosis and throughout my treatment.
“We had big plans for 2020 but sadly, like so many other charity events, they have mostly been put on hold due to the pandemic.
“A great deal of uncertainty still lies ahead but I am determined to continue to fundraise for research into this disease, which is so critically underfunded, all while enjoying my little family and making the most of every day.”
Alex, who gave birth at 4.15am at the couple’s home in Middleton, Greater Manchester, after a short labour, said: “Because of the restrictions, Neil wasn’t able to attend hospital with me for my prenatal appointments and scans, which was really disappointing.
“I chose to have a homebirth because I knew that it meant, whatever happened, Neil could be with me.
“Harvey arrived just five hours after my waters broke.
“I picked his middle name ‘Neil’ in honour of my husband and in acknowledgment of all he has been through and the fact that he is a wonderful father.
“We’re desperate for lockdown to be over so we can go out and show Harvey off to all our friends and family but for now we’re just enjoying him in our little family bubble and savouring every precious moment.”
Matthew Price, Community Fundraising Manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We were so delighted to hear the lovely news that Neil and Alex had welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world.
“Our huge congratulations go to them and to Annabelle, who we know is besotted with little Harvey.
“Neil and Alex have been fantastic supporters of the charity since Neil’s shock diagnosis and we can’t thank them enough for their commitment to fundraising and raising awareness.
“Neil’s diagnosis reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age.
“What’s more, less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers.
“We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”
Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Neil-Taylor27 to donate to Neil’s fundraising campaign.