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Newark teenager and former Welbourn pupil named ‘Miracle Boy’ after defying odds and fighting a rare type of cancer

A teenager who was sent home to die more than once has been named ‘miracle boy’ after defying the odds.

Dan Evans, 18, of Newark, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in December 2022 and last Christmas was told all treatment avenues had been exhausted and he should 'go home and make memories’.

But the teenager refused to give up and research found a clinical trial that had proved successful elsewhere. The public rallied round and raised £100,000 for the treatment, before it was granted on the NHS through compassionate use.

Dan Evans is recovering after months of cancer treatment.
Dan Evans is recovering after months of cancer treatment.

Now, just months later Dan is recovering at home from a stem cell transplant and is looking to the future.

He said: “There are many things I still want to do. Being 18 is young and you have your whole life in front of you, and I didn’t want to give up on that. And my family and friends, I didn’t want to let them down, you always want to stick around for as long as possible.

“I know it is cliche, but I would advise other people to don’t lose hope, to not give up because as bad as the situation might get, hope can be the last thing that keeps you going and drives you.”

Dan’s focus is now on recovery, but in future he is hoping to study physical geography at Lincoln University, where he was planning to go before he became ill.

The teenager was a pupil at Sir William Robertson Academy in Welbourn when he was first diagnosed with stage four Primary Mediastinal B Cell Lymphoma (PMBCL).

His family was expecting it to be only six months of chemotherapy, however, it turned into 18 months of failed treatments and a nightmare for them all

Dan, who played football for Newark Town before his diagnosis, admitted his world flipped upside down after the diagnosis.

He said: “When you are diagnosed with something like this, it’s the sort of thing you hear other people get and then when you get it, it hits you very quickly that your whole life is changing and you have to adapt very quickly.

“I remember at Queen's Medical Centre when we were there for the first time for a couple of cycles into the chemo. You hear other kids ringing the bell and I think I said something like — I can't wait for that to be us.

“But obviously then, slowly, things went wrong and that picture of ringing the bell, it kind of just fades a little.”

Dan Evans is recovering after months of cancer treatment.
Dan Evans is recovering after months of cancer treatment.

But, he added: “I felt like I couldn’t give up – I couldn’t just say that’s it, because at the time you keep thinking that maybe the next one will work.

“During the 18 months, you are constantly in this like fight or flight response, some people describe it as there is that enemy, the illness, you can’t see it but it is always there, and you don’t see it but you can’t run from it.”

One of the things that Dan said to be the hardest parts of the last 18 months was the fact that all of the different treatments he had to endure that didn’t work.

He said: “Each time they say it didn’t work, it just breaks you down, it ruins you really, mentally and then you go on to the next and it doesn’t work, but thankfully, eventually it did work, I am here now.

“The other thing is being told that there is nothing they can do. You feel like they have given up and again, emotionally, you don’t know how to deal with that, it is hard, but you just got to try and carry on.”

Dan’s dad, Mark, said: “He had one of the rarest types of cancer you can get and for me, it will always be at the back of my mind, I am naturally going to feel worried all the time for Dan.

“I don’t know if it is from God or what, but I do feel and sense that everything is going to be ok, after everything Dan has gone through, and us as a family, I struggle to put it into words.

“There are two parts to this, it is wonderful that Dan has been given another chance, but it makes me a little bit angry that the NHS, or an individual within the NHS, told Dan twice, that they never said the word terminal, but they said to go home and make memories because there’s nothing we can do.

“If we had not been tenacious enough to go out and try and acquire this medication, he wouldn’t be here.”

Dan Evans is recovering after months of cancer treatment.
Dan Evans is recovering after months of cancer treatment.

His mum, Natalya, added: “I always said to Dan, we never surrender, and I always said that, even when the doctors made it seem that we were wasting time, I always said ‘no no no, we’ll go ahead’.

“I always said we’ll go ahead with the procedure and if we get a good result, it might be Dan’s golden ticket, and it was.

“He is a fighter and that is why he is at the finishing line now because he never gave up.”

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