Gary, 17, dies from rare form of cancer

A TEENAGER due to celebrate his 18th birthday later this year died suddenly from a rare form of cancer. Gary Usher, of Stoney Close, Huntingdon, was a seemingly fit and healthy 17-year-old when five weeks ago he fell ill. Three weeks later, Gary, a car me

A TEENAGER due to celebrate his 18th birthday later this year died suddenly from a rare form of cancer.

Gary Usher, of Stoney Close, Huntingdon, was a seemingly fit and healthy 17-year-old when five weeks ago he fell ill.

Three weeks later, Gary, a car mechanics student at Huntingdonshire Regional College, was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) - a rare form of cancer that primarily affects children. On Friday, after spending three weeks in hospital, he died.

His mother Julie Usher, 40, told The Hunts Post five weeks ago Gary showed no signs of illness.

"There was nothing wrong with Gary. He said he felt a bit tired, not ill, just a bit run down, but we put it down to the late nights he was having after staying up playing his computer games."

However, Gary decided he was well enough to go to Hereford on his annual fishing trip. While away, he complained of a stomach ache and was taken to hospital where it was discovered he did not have enough blood and would need a transfusion.

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He was transferred to Hinchingbrooke Hospital where tests were carried out. When doctors could not find out what was wrong with him, he was transferred to Addenbrooke's for specialist tests.

Two weeks before his death, doctors told his family that Gary had cancer, but by then his organs had been overtaken by the disease.

"It happened so quickly and suddenly," said Ms Usher. "He did not suffer at all and was unaware of what was happening. Before going in to hospital he had been well and fit and like any other teenage boy and did not show any symptoms that suggested he was ill."

The former St Peter's School pupil, who was born at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, was supposed to be giving his mother away at her wedding in October 2008. The wedding has now been put on hold.

"It would be too difficult going through with it so soon after what has happened," said Ms Usher.

She added that Gary, who was a huge West Ham fan, "was always smiling and laughing".

She said: "He was very popular and had lots of friends and was known for always wearing a baseball cap. He would also attend football matches with his dad, Charlie."

Gary's stepfather Nathan Bevan said: "He was polite, enthusiastic and, like a typical teenager, he had a messy room."

Gary, after reading about Warren Hay's funeral, had even told his mother that, if anything ever happened to him, he wanted everyone to wear bright colours and football shirts to his funeral.

A memorial football match is being organised by Gary's friends, and Ms Usher's employer, Woolf Engineering in Huntingdon, is hoping to hold a sportsman's dinner. The family is also planning to raise awareness and funds for research into LCH.

"LCH is so rare the doctors and nurses said they did not really have any guidelines for treating it and had to get advice from experts in America, where it is more common," said Ms Usher. "It is hard when you know what is going on but, when the doctors and nurses don't know, it is even worse.

"We hope by raising money for research in to LCH other families won't have to go through what we have been through."

It is estimated that LCH occurs in about one in 560,000 adults.

INFORMATION: Contact Co-operative Funeral Services, Huntingdon on 01480 458360 for funeral details. Donations in Gary's memory can be made in support of LCH to Cancer Research UK. To find out more about LCH visit www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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