26 May 2020
Ollie Donlan’s Amazing Journey
At the end of 2018 Oliver Donlan was finishing his first year of A Levels and enjoying all the usual activities of a normal healthy teenager. He loved cycling, squash, football and rugby and was an exceptional tennis player, being a member of a local club and from a young age he had been part of a scheme with training at Wimbledon with the LTA.
By the beginning of 2019 however he had begun experiencing pain in his left knee, which became progressively more intense. Doctors and physios seemed unable to find a cause and Ollie began to slide into a depression, unable to concentrate, and falling behind at school. His school were unsympathetic, believing him to be lazy, but he was beginning to show signs of a mental breakdown and as he struggled to continue his studies his parents Sarah and Robert decided that it would be impossible for him to take his A levels, and he left school.
He persevered through the leg pain, which he was told was ligament damage but, in reality it was the tumour growing inside his knee, with several months of physio treatment that did not help at all due to a missed diagnosis.
He was on holiday in Spain with his family when the pain in his leg became critical, and the swelling was getting worse and spreading. An emergency trip to a local hospital made it clear that Oliver needed to get back to the UK immediately and to seek treatment for possible cancer.
On the 15th August 2019, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his left knee – a stage 3 and grade 3 aggressive 18cm tumour in his femur and small suspected spots on his lung (these turned out to just be random scaring). Ollie started the most intense treatment on the Teenage Cancer floor at UCLH Macmillan Cancer Centre, the MAP treatment.
On the 18 November 2019 he had a distal femoral extra-articular resection to remove the tumour in his knee joint and femur. After a hugely successful operation, he recommenced MAP whilst starting mifamurtide immunotherapy in December 2019. The immunotherapy is a 36-week treatment and will finish in August.
Ollie and his two sisters Imogen 22, and Saskia 16, have been surrounded by music all their lives, due to their parents’ love of all music, especially rock, and the last concert he went to before his diagnosis was The Who’s fantastic performance on 6 July 2019 at Wembley Stadium. After his operation and during his treatment he has had incredible support from The Who – their generosity and help has created some wonderfully positive moments during a very tough time. As a result, he has naturally become an avid supporter of The Who and is really looking forward to taking part in the Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Albert Hall in 2021
Ollie did finally complete his A level studies this year and was due to take his exams this summer. And although the Covid-19 crisis has caused such disruption, his predicted results were for three As which has resulted in his being offered a place at York University to read PPE (philosophy, politics and economics), which was always his dream. Hopefully while he is there he will also be able to take part in other sports which will be of a lesser impact on his new leg construction. It is a fantastic result after such a gruelling and difficult year, and wonderful for Ollie to now have a future.
Ollie and the Donlan family are extremely grateful for all the invaluable support that they have received from the Teenage Cancer Trust, The Who, and UCLH.
To try to give something back we have set up a JustGiving page for people to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Anything, however little, would be much appreciated.
And thank you!
Oliver Donlan finishes his treatment at UCLH Macmillan Cancer Centre