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South Warwickshire family’s £100k appeal after five-year-old boy’s brain cancer diagnosis

A FAMILY from Wellesbourne are hoping to raise £100,000 to help a five-year-old battle brain cancer.

Taylan Kurtul was diagnosed a month ago with medulloblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Surgeons operated for six hours and removed most of the tumour but side-effects from surgery have left the youngster unable to speak and needing to learn how to sit, walk, drink and eat again.

Taylan also now faces a gruelling nine-month course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

His first five-day course of chemo ended on Sunday, and he must now wait a few weeks to recover before starting radiotherapy.

Taylan in his Leicester City football kit.
Taylan in his Leicester City football kit.

Taylan’s parents Laura and Toygun Kurtul have given up their jobs to care for him round-the-clock.

Taylan’s aunt, Rebecca Chamberlain, who grew up in Wellesbourne, has set up a Go Fund Me page to help with expenses such as travel to and from hospital and overnight accommodation.

Amazingly, more than 1,000 people have already donated, boosting it to £43,000 so far.

Rebecca, who has three young children of her own and lives in Australia, told the Herald how Taylan’s diagnosis struck as a “massive shock out of the blue”.

She said: “We’re just trying to do everything we can do to support my sister and get through this.

“Laura’s my best friend, so when she rang me to tell me what was happening, I jumped on the next plane and came back, leaving all my kids here in Australia with my husband.

“I stayed for just under three weeks to support Laura and Toygun but had to come back for my own children. I plan to go back in September.”

The family are well known in Stratford and the surrounding area.

Toygun, Laura and Taylan
Toygun, Laura and Taylan

Taylan’s late grandfather was John Chamberlain, who died of cancer in 2012, and his grandmother was Joy Hodge, who also died of cancer in 2015, while Taylan’s great grandmother was Betty Evans of Tiddington.

Taylan’s uncles are Richard Chamberlain, 42, who grew up in Wellesbourne and now lives in Alcester, and Robbie Hodge, 29, who lives near Leamington.

Rebecca, 40, who is a property stylist, said: “The treatment is intensive because the cancer is aggressive and fast-growing and Taylan’s feeling very poorly after those five days of chemo.

“The side-effects from the operation have also made the whole thing much harder because he can’t even tell us how he’s feeling and what he wants. It’s just heartbreaking.”

The family’s ordeal started at the end of May, after 36-year-old Laura noticed her lively young son, seemed to have problems with his balance and was walking oddly.

She took him to the family GP who referred him to hospital for tests and scans, which revealed the tumour.

Laura, a PA and housekeeper, Toygun, who works in the shipping industry, and Taylan now live in Broughton in Leicestershire but must travel to an NHS hospital in Manchester for treatment, as it’s the nearest offering specialist radiotherapy.

Plans for a party to celebrate Taylan’s sixth birthday on 30th July have been put on ice.

Rebecca set up the Go Fund Me fundraising page from her home in Australia and it was at £700 when she went to bed.

But by the time she woke, the total had shot up to £20,000.

Rebecca said: “It’s incredible how many people are donating their hard-earned cash.

Taylan with one of his cousins in Stratford.
Taylan with one of his cousins in Stratford.

“Laura just cannot believe it, she and Toygun are so incredibly grateful.

“We’ve been on the phone many times, both crying our eyes out because we’re overwhelmed by everyone’s love and support.”

As well as donating cash, well-wishers from South Warwickshire and Leicestershire have offered free accommodation and sent gifts to Taylan.

Wellesbourne native David Pearson, who was at Kineton High school with Laura, is supporting the fundraising effort through his bakery MOR with collecting tins in the Stratford, Chipping Norton and Chipping Campden stores.

Rebecca explained: “Laura’s a strong person but she’s really scared. We’re all scared.

“We’re just trying to focus on one day at a time and each little ‘win,’ like Taylan said a word, or he managed to sit up in bed.”

She added: “Laura and Toygun both want to be by Taylan’s side all the time - they obviously don’t want to leave him, so there’s a lot of financial stress.

“I desperately want them to keep their home - the thought of losing your home, while all this is going on is just awful.

“I want to know that when Taylan’s well enough to come home, he’ll have his bedroom back.”

For more information and to donate, go to Go Fund Me and search on ‘Help Taylan beat brain cancer’. Or click here.

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