WATCHING their seven-year-old son’s face as he opens his presents tomorrow (Saturday) will be the ultimate gift for Eastbourne couple Vickie and Nick Browning as they were told he wouldn’t survive to celebrate Christmas.
Little Kieren was given just six months to live in April after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
The heartbroken couple vowed to make their eldest boy’s dying wishes come true fearing they’d be facing this Christmas without him. With the help of charities and well-wishers they took him to Disneyland Paris, to meet his favourite band JLS and to be a fireman for the day.
Now he’s defied the doctors and is excited about catching a glimpse of Father Christmas and opening a pile of presents under the tree at his home in Whitley Road.
Delighted mum Vickie, who also has a four-year-old son Jayden, said, “We’ve gone a bit mad this year, buying the boys everything they said they wanted because it’s a day we never thought Kieren would see.
“This time last year was the worst time ever. He had his first session of radiotherapy on Christmas Eve and we didn’t know if he would even realise it was Christmas.
“We were in and out of the Royal Marsden Hospital for two months before doctors told us he only had six months left, which gave us until October. It was heartbreaking.
“We didn’t think he would survive until his birthday in November, and when he did, I made a wish he would be here for Christmas and miraculously it’s come true. It’s the best present I could ever have. I haven’t asked for anything else for Christmas – there’s nothing I’d want more than this.”
Vickie, 24, and husband Nick, 26, are spending the day at home cooking a giant roast dinner as the boys love all the trimmings. She said, “I’ve bought a three bird to cook with roast potatoes and stuffing as they love that. Roast dinner is Kieren’s favourite so he’s got turkey, chicken and duck! I’m going to take so many photographs, and video everything, so we remember it forever.
“We’re doing everything to make this the best Christmas we can. We took the boys to see Father Christmas at The Enterprise Centre and to the Demelza House Christmas party.
“It’s great seeing Kieren enjoying himself like every other child. He had a blood infection a couple of months ago and spent two weeks in hospital, but now he’s the best he’s been for ages.”
The couple first noticed something was wrong when Kieren had trouble holding a pen after starting nursery. Dad Nick, who was training to be a paramedic, said, “He was four and suddenly became clumsy. He would trip over his feet and didn’t seem very co-ordinated.
“He snored loudly and then his face became swollen on the right side.”
After a lot of tests, Kieren had an MRI scan last December, which showed a rare cancerous tumour in his brain stem, called a brain stem glioma.
“Doctors said it was inoperable because of the location,” Nick explained. But the tumour was pressing down and affecting his co-ordination, breathing and making the right hand side of his face grow faster, so it bulged out.
In April their consultant broke the devastating news that even though the tumour had shrunk, Kieren was dying.
“He told us he only had six months at most,” Nick said. “But he said without the radiotherapy it would have only been three weeks. We’re just grateful for every extra day. Kieren is so brave and never complains about feeling ill. He’s our little soldier who we pray will just keep battling on.’