A brave boy with a rare form of cancer has raised more than £2,500 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s oncology department, as part of a fundraiser to celebrate his eighth birthday.

Joe Kallar-Lewis, from Swadlincote, set up his challenge and pledged to take 300 steps for every pound he raised to help support other sick kids at the hospital where he’s currently undergoing cancer treatment.

Joe received his shock diagnosis just over a year ago in February 2020, after initially visiting the hospital with a sore knee. After a little fall a few weeks before, Joe developed a limp and concerned that he may have done more damage than they first thought, mum Dal took him to get checked out. Doctors initially thought Joe had fractured his knee, but a blood test showed that his white blood cell count was through the roof and that this could be something much more sinister. The Kallar family’s world came crashing down around them as Joe was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, a rare type of cancer which affects the white blood cells, and Avascular Necrosis, a condition which affects bone tissue.

Joe immediately began treatment and shortly after, he underwent an operation to remove a painful build-up of fluid around his hip, caused by the Avascular Necrosis, but unfortunately he didn’t recover well. Joe wasn’t eating, he couldn’t keep anything down and it was clear the treatment wasn’t working.

In a desperate bid to fight his cancer, Joe began a clinical trial which successfully began reducing the cancer but after a while Joe’s liver could no longer tolerate the dosage and the treatment had to stop. Now, Joe is back at home and his family are exploring alternatives, including a bone marrow transplant and lower dosage clinical trials.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for Joe and his family and while he’s still not stable, Joe was determined to do something special for his fellow patients on the ward. Thinking back to his time in hospital, it was distractions that helped him get through his treatment, so Joe asked the hospital if he could use the money raised from his birthday 

fundraiser to pay for portable DVD players for the beds on the ward he was treated on. Joe was able to add to his DVD player haul, with 10 Kindles kindly donated by Amazon, after the team there heard about Joe’s fundraising.


Joe’s mum, Dal, said: “We were absolutely distraught when Joe was diagnosed and every day since has been a battle. The cancer treatments have been absolutely gruelling for him but it’s the distractions that have helped get him through and take his mind of what’s going on.

“The money we raised equated to 750,000 steps, which Joe has been too poorly to complete himself, so I’ve taken a lot of them in his place. Like the trooper he is, he did join in and has completed several laps around the living room with me!”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “This year must have been absolutely harrowing for Joe and his family but he’s absolutely right, distraction plays a huge part in helping our patients get through difficult treatment and aids their recovery.

“We’re so grateful to Joe for choosing our Oncology Ward to benefit from his fantastic birthday fundraiser, and providing these devices to help entertain other sick kids, who have to spend countless hours, days and weeks in hospital.”