A BLACKWOOD-born man who was just five when he was diagnosed with brain cancer has spoken of how living with the disease does not mean he hasn't been able to live a full and successful life.

In 2006, Rhys Howe, then aged five, was diagnosed with an inoperable, malignant brain tumour.

He was too young to have radiotherapy to treat it, but underwent treatment through chemotherapy. First he tried swallowing medicine but couldn’t stand the taste so had to have a tube inserted into his nose.

South Wales Argus: Rhys Howe during his childhood.

Rhys Howe as a child

At the time mum Lisa Howe, said: "I had no idea at all. He had a lazy eye and a perforated eardrum but it was all down to a doctor who just knew something wasn't right.

"He noticed Rhys only smiled with half his face and sent him straight for a scan. I felt terrible because he'd had it since he was born and I thought it was just something he did."

She was devastated when the diagnosis came through, but Mr Howe was still doing everything he would usually do. However he missed a lot of school and spent a lot of time in hospital but when well enough, he would be running around and playing like any other child.


Fast forward to 2021 and Mr Howe is living in Glasgow, where he moved with his family in 2008 and has a successful life.

He is the founder of Project Dynasty, a digital enterprise that helps people build and improve their skills, understanding and confidence. In 2019 he won Modern Apprentice of 2019 for the Glasgow Council Family category while he was working as a modern apprentice in business administration and is now a digital admin assistant.

“I struggled in school because I missed so much," she said. "Cancer may be a big challenge, but it has not stopped me and should not stop anyone else either,” said Mr Howe.

Looking back on his childhood, Mr Howe said: “I lost my appetite when it came to eating but I would still push myself to try eat most of my dinner since I was told otherwise I couldn't go to my grandparent's house on the weekend which motivated me. I remember in the afternoon one day pulling my hair out very easily by hand but at the time too young to connect it with my illness. The next morning, I had no hair left because it covered my pillow so when I attended school I would wear a blue cap.”

Mr Howe has been raising money for the charities that helped him and his family. He recently completed a virtual kilt walk for Teenage Cancer Trust and raised £488. Previously he has climbed Ben Nevis to raise money.

South Wales Argus: Rhys Howe now.

Rhys Howe today

“It is very important for me to do that to give back to those who helped me with treatment and to make memories with my family," he said.

“I had a CLIC Sargent nurse to support me and my family. I spoke to her recently and she has just retired. She has been helping people like me all her life and has been so dedicated to her job.

"It is also important to talk about it as not everybody talks about cancer, but nobody is exempt from it.

“I still have a small tumour and have a check-up every two years. After cancer, not many know that it can come back. So people could have beaten cancer and then be told that it has come back or get another type of cancer.”