- Harvey Hawkins diagnosed with non-cancerous colloid cyst six months ago
- It puts pressure on his brain and could cause severe damage or death
- But surgeons say operating on it risks doing more harm than good
- So Harvey's parents Anita and Neil, from Milton Keynes, must sit and wait
- 'He's a happy little boy with a ticking time bomb in his brain,' said his mother
He looks just like any happy five-year-old boy, but Harvey Hawkins lives with a lump on his brain which could kill him at any time - and his parents have no choice but to let it grow.
Harvey was diagnosed six months ago with a rare growth called a colloid cyst after he started vomiting and became delirious for days on end.
But his parents Anita and Neil, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, face an agonising wait because the 9mm lump is so hard to reach that surgery could do Harvey more harm than good.
Ticking time bomb: He looks just like any happy five-year-old, but Harvey Hawkins lives with a lump on his brain which could kill him at any time, and his parents have no choice but to let it grow until surgeons can reach it
Doting: Harvey's parents Anita and Neil (pictured), from Milton Keynes, keep a close eye on his symptoms
They have been told they must wait for the non-cancerous cyst to grow before surgeons have a hope of removing it, even though it can cause severe brain damage and even sudden death.
If the cyst grows it will begin to stop vital fluids from entering his brain, which means his parents must keep a keen eye on his symptoms and take him for regular brain scans.
Mrs Hawkins, 37, said: 'If you saw him you wouldn't think there is anything wrong with him. He's just a normal happy little boy, but with a ticking time bomb in his brain.
'We just have to wait for the worst to come and then it is a matter of time whether we can save him. It could be tomorrow or it could be in 20 years, but once it grows too big it can cause sudden death.
'It's very hard to live with but we will try our utmost to save him when it comes to the worst.'
Mrs Hawkins, 37, said: 'We just have to wait for the worst to come and then it is a matter of time whether we can save him. It could be tomorrow or it could be in 20 years, but it can cause sudden death'
COLLOID CYST MAKE UP JUST 1.5 PER CENT OF BRAIN TUMOURS
Colloid cysts are rare, making up just 1.5 per cent of brain tumours according to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
The jelly-like masses are usually found on the third ventricle, one of four fluid-filled structures which provide a core for the brain and help protect it.
Although they are not cancerous, they have the same life-threatening effects as any abnormal lump.
They push other cells out of their way and cause symptoms including headaches, vomiting and even sudden death.
Despite the cysts measuring up to 5cm in extreme cases, medics are unable to agree on what causes them.
Harvey's symptoms first showed just before Christmas last year when he began to vomit, but he was initially turned away from the doctor with suspected gastritis.
His mother took him back to the doctor two days later when the vomiting refused to stop, and
he was admitted to hospital where he remained for five days for tests.
But he was sent home again, and returned only once he began vomiting violently on Christmas Day.
The little boy had an MRI scan at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital which confirmed he had a colloid cyst on the third ventricle of his brain.
Surgeons analysed the amount of pressure the cyst was placing on Harvey's brain and decided operating on it would be more risky than leaving it until it became easier to reach.
Now the family have to rush Harvey to hospital whenever there is a slight change in his condition.
'If his temperature goes above 37 degrees, or he has weakness in his limbs we have to act fast,' his mother said.
'I had a call from his school that he was complaining his eyes were hurting, we spent three hours in A&E and it turned out he was just tired - but we can't take any chances.
'They call it a "sit and wait" condition as there is nothing we can do. We try to put it to the back of our minds and to live a normal life, but this is reality.'
Fundraising: Harvey's parents want to take him on holidays while he is still guaranteed to enjoy them
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of the Brain Tumour Charity which offers advice and support to patients and their families, said: 'Our hearts go out to Harvey and his family.
'Being told that your child has a potentially life-threatening condition is every parent's worst nightmare.
'It is even more agonising - and frightening - to be told you must wait before any treatment is possible.
'The most important thing is that Harvey's family and those around him know exactly what to look out for and who to speak to on his medical team if they are worried at any point that things have changed.'
The family is raising money to take Harvey on holidays while he is still guaranteed to enjoy them, including to Lourdes in France, where his devout Catholic parents believe he could be healed.
'I want him to get blessed so that when the operation comes, he will be okay,' his mother said.
For advice on brain tumours and growths visit thebraintumourcharity.org.