Cancer is no Teddy Bear’s picnic


Teddy Mascaro likes to play showjumping with his plastic toy horses. They jump over jumps and he even helps them neigh a bit.

When they bump their tums on the hurdles, he knows how they feel. Because the toddler has a rare form of stomach cancer, neuroblastoma, which kills almost half those who contract it.

He has already endured seven blood transfusions and a number of gruelling rounds of chemotherapy.

Teddy’s parents, Emma Mayo and Jamie Mascaro, from West Dulwich, have launched a fundraising campaign for treatment to give him the best chance of beating the disease.

Pupils at Kelvin Grove Primary School in Sydenham have joined in, raising more than £1,300 with a Teddy Bear’s Picnic on July 6.

At the moment the cheeky and affectionate 16-month-old is responding well to treatment. The tumour has reduced in size and there seems to be no cancer in his bone marrow but he will still need surgery, more chemotherapy and radiotherapy.​

Immunotherapy which has been shown to be highly effective, has not been available on the NHS.

The most effective is only available in New York and possibly soon in Barcelona. So the family need to find a considerable amount of money – possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Year 6 children from the school decided they wanted to donate all the money from their end-of-year show ticket sales to Teddy’s fund and they raised £446.

Staff are planning dress down days and after-school cinema evenings.

His parents first feared something might be wrong when Teddy became fearful and clingy and stopped crawling.

Tests found a tumour in his tummy and he was diagnosed in April 2018.

Brave Teddy started NHS treatment and the blood transfusions. But the disease returns in up to half of children – and if this happens, less than one in 10 of those young people will survive.

Mum Emma, until April a teacher at Kelvin Grove, said: “Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined it was cancer. We were in denial, utterly broken and totally devastated.

I remember clutching Teddy and sobbing. All we could think was that our baby was going to die. We simply couldn’t believe this was happening to our precious boy.

“Last week we found out Dinutuximab beta is now being approved for use on the NHS.

We literally cannot believe it. We really didn’t think this was going to happen. It’s the most amazing news for us and all the other families faced with raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for it.

This doesn’t mean we’re stopping fundraising or all your efforts and donations have been in vain…Teddy is still very sick and we definitely need to raise around £200,000 to get him to America after his treatment here for a trial that helps to prevent relapse.

Neuroblastoma is a really aggressive cancer and the reality is Teddy could relapse at any time and so we also potentially need funds to get him treatment we don’t even know about at the moment.

“So thank you to everyone for their help, support and donations.

We are so grateful and we are definitely still fundraising but now we just need to raise less which is an enormous weight off of our shoulders.”

Dad Jamie said: “Teddy has shown amazing spirit, handing out high fives to the doctors and nurses and sharing his obsession with horses with them.

But it’s heartbreaking, as every day we know he’s fighting for survival.  We’re doing everything we can to give Teddy hope for the future – please support us if you can.”

Teddy’s aunt, Ruby Mayo, said: “High-risk neuroblastoma is a particularly aggressive and complex cancer to treat.

It has a high likelihood of returning, and if this happens the survival rate is very low.

“At the moment he is responding well to the treatment. The tumour has reduced in size and there no longer seems to be cancer in his bone marrow.

However this is still the early stage of his treatment and he will still need an operation, further chemotherapy and radiotherapy.”

Steve Richards, Chief Executive of Solving Kids’ Cancer, which is supporting Teddy, said: “We offer expert information to help them make choices about treatment.

We support families to raise the money needed and fund ground-breaking research to improve survival rates.”

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Follow Teddy’s story on Facebook @teamsuperteddy or Instagram @mamaandtbear.

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