THE mum of Oscar Saxelby-Lee has pleaded with the Worcester community to dig deep after a third child in Oscar’s class was affected by cancer.

Olivia Saxelby was shocked when friend Jo Martyr - mum to Oscar’s classmate Laurie - broke the news she had throat cancer and faced a gruelling fight for survival.

Jo’s six-year-old son, Laurie, is the third child in Oscar’s class at Pitmaston Primary School affected by cancer.

Oscar was diagnosed with an aggressive leukaemia, aged four, and was declared cancer-free after having pioneering treatment in Singapore, paid for by a huge £500,000 crowdfunding campaign.

While another classmate, Jessica Dovey, underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy and lost a kidney after suffering a rare Wilms tumour aged three. She has been cancer-free for two years.

Jo was one of the school mums who supported the Saxelby-Lee family and, keen to give back, Olivia is trying to raise £2,000 for a garden sanctuary for her, husband Dan and Laurie.

She wants to create a ‘little paradise’ because shielding Covid-19 restrictions mean the Martyr family, from St John’s, must stay in isolation throughout Jo’s cancer treatment.

Jo said she was told she had cancer during lockdown after finding a large, lymph swelling on her neck.

She said: “Likely this would be a face-to-face meeting in non-Covid times but, for me, it was a telephone call with my son badgering to know who was on the phone!”

Although her cancer is curable, the treatment is exceptionally gruelling. She has already undergone painful surgery and is having radiotherapy to her throat and neck, five days a week, as well as bouts of chemotherapy.

The radiotherapy has killed off her saliva glands and causes ulcers and inflammation and means she must be fed by a tube and cannot speak easily. As she is extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, the family have had to shun offers of help.

She said: “This was almost more terrifying than the diagnosis itself - how were we going to cope?

“Aside from my longer term fears for my son there was my anxiety about how my husband and I could care for him emotionally and physically without any practical support during Covid. He hadn’t played with any other children in months and behaviourally it is really starting to show.”

Recently, Oscar and Laurie have met, which has brought relief.

Jo said: “For Oscar’s safety they need to shield, just as we are, so in recent weeks the boys have been able to play together which has been a godsend.”

She added: “Libby (Olivia) and I first met at the Pitmaston reception class open day two years ago. With 18 months of incredible emotions and terrifying ups and downs for Oscar I never expected to find the tables turned and now Libby is supporting me. Despite all that she still has to deal with she has been devoted to supporting me and helping us with Laurie’s emotions. Libby understands what the oncology world does to children and parents.

“I was nevertheless stunned when she created a ‘Just Giving’ site for me! I’ve benefitted from so much moral support from our Ozzy Army community but Libby recognised people were limited in how they could help out in the Covid setting. So I think she wanted to give us something wonderful to look forward to, which can be experienced safely at home.

“Gardening is my sanity check and Laurie loves to grow and nurture plants too. But of course there’s no time, energy or money to pursue it at the moment.”

Olivia said: “I was still in Singapore when Jo told me. I felt helpless. I know how much cancer affects everything. It’s like you’re walking through a storm and even if you get a breather for five minutes, you’re still in it.

“For Jo, being a mum, it’s often you that has to be everyone else’s barrier. Everyone feels safe when mum’s there. It’s awful to feel you can’t be there for your boys - and you aren’t in control anymore.

“When Oscar was diagnosed, Jo had always been there egging us on.

“When we were going through everything with Oscar, there was such a huge community behind us. There wasn’t day when somebody didn’t send a message to remind us we weren’t alone. Having that army behind you is the biggest and best thing you can have when you are going through hell and back.

“We are so grateful for everything we had and wish to see that for them. It’s not fundraising like we did. It’s £2,000 - and we are already halfway there. We just need a bit of extra help to get there.

“It’s unbelievable that in one class there are two kids with childhood cancer and another affected by it. The school and the community will have to deal with another family facing cancer and the biggest risk and the biggest fear is for Laurie to lose his mum.

“It makes me sick to think about it.”

Anyone who wants to donate can visit

If you can help in any other way, contact Olivia via the Hand in Hand for Oscar Facebook or Instagram pages