A five-year old Rugby League fan who beat life-threatening cancer will have his dream come true when he carries the ball onto the pitch at his beloved Leigh Centurions’ first home game of the season.
Riley Agent, from Leigh, was chosen for the honour after Leigh Centurions’ owner Derek Beaumont heard Riley’s story from his mum Pam’s employers, at Leigh firm Astley Hire.
Astley Hire is sponsoring the ball for the Leigh Centurions’ landmark clash against Leeds Rhinos on Friday February 17, the team’s first home game since being promoted to the Betfred Super League.
It will be a double celebration for Riley, a pupil at Glazebury C of E primary school, as just before his fifth birthday he was finally given the fantastic news that doctors are confident his cancer will not return.
Riley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma stage 4s aged just ten days old, in November 2011, after he was taken into hospital and doctors discovered a tumour on his liver.
It was the discovery of that tumour which ultimately saved his life, as further tests revealed the neuroblastoma, a tumour which forms on the adrenal gland and is often undetected until it is too large to treat.
“It was horrendous,” Riley’s mum Pam, 37, who trains Astley Hire clients how to put up scaffolding, said.
“We went for a normal midwife check-up and they noticed his tummy has swelled up, and we were sent to hospital in Warrington for tests.
“I was expecting them to say he had a bit of wind, but they found the tumour on his liver and that lead to them finding the neuroblastoma.
“We were really lucky because if he hadn’t had the liver tumour, they might not have found the neuroblastoma until it was too late. If they had found it at a later stage this could have been a very different story.
“It’s all a bit of a blur now. But at the time you just go on autopilot. There were times when I really thought I would lose him.
“He spent his first Christmas in the oncology department at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool and then he had to go back for more chemo the following year.
“There were times during the treatment when I thought his stomach would pop as it was so swollen with all the fluid they were putting into him. I’m so grateful for everything everyone in the NHS did to save him. Riley wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.
“He is still under the care of his consultant at the oncology Unit at Alder Hey.
“He still has the tumour on the adrenal gland but thank fully it has calcified and they consider it no longer a threat. We have to have regular scans and checks to make sure there is no further growth and it hasn’t spread to his blood or bones.”
Now all Riley’s hopes are on his impending moment in the spotlight, when he will carry the ball to the centre spot at his local club’s biggest game of the year so far.
“He’s rugby mad, so this is a real dream come true,” Pam said.
“We’ve followed the Centurions for years, it was great when they got promoted. He loves watching them with his grandad, but he’s never seen them play at Leigh Sports Village.
“We couldn’t believe it when the Centurions said he could carry the ball on to the pitch. It’s such an honour. He’s a bit nervous but mainly excited. He’s going to love it on the day!”
Riley will follow the players, mascots and a special guard of honour through the tunnel and onto the pitch just before kick-off at 8pm, on Friday February 17. The game will be televised live on Sky Sports.
Derek Beaumont, Owner of Leigh Centurions said: “Hearing about Riley made the hairs on my neck stand up. It was a refreshing change to hear such an inspiring story about a child that wins through.
“We’re delighted to give this fine young man the proud moment and experience of carrying the ball to the centre circle to mark our first home game live on Sky TV.
“I hope his victory in such difficult circumstances inspires our boys on to victory.”
Pam’s boss, Stephen Dorricott, who is Managing Director at Astley Hire said: “We are ever so grateful to at the team at Leigh Centurions for giving Riley this opportunity.
“Pam is a highly valued member of staff here at Astley Hire and we are delighted she will get the chance to see her little boy performing this honour.”