An 11-year-old boy from Armagh who is being treated for acute myeloid leukemia has received a personal message from former Ulster and Ireland rugby captain Rory Best.
heo Smyth is currently being treated at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, who was diagnosed with blood cancer last month.
Due to the financial strain on his family, a fundraiser was launched for the boy which to date has raised over £6,000 for parents Martin and Caroline.
After the campaign, Best took to social media to send a video message to the rugby-loving student.
In the video, the man with the most caps of all time from Ulster said: “Just wanted to send you a quick message. I heard you’re a great athlete. I heard you love rugby. I’m glad you love such a great sport.”
He then went on to joke: “Unfortunately it’s a bit disappointing to play for Armagh Rugby Club and not Banbridge but here we go.”
“Listen, I heard you had some bad news a while ago. All I’m saying is stay strong, push through and there is plenty of help and support out there if you need it. All the best,” he added.
In a social media post, Theo’s Journey group explained that the 11-year-old will remain in the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Unit.
“[Theo] is cared for by a great team of doctors, nurses, care assistants and therapists,” they added.
“He has just completed his first chemotherapy regimen and has required multiple blood transfusions and platelets during that time. Despite being petrified, he has shown so much courage and maturity to face something no child should have.
“Theo has a long road ahead that will involve lengthy hospital stays, ongoing tests and surgeries, and more rounds of chemotherapy.
“Needless to say, this diagnosis had a devastating impact on the family unit.
“The visit is reserved for parents only to protect Theo from infection, meaning his sister Jasmyn has not seen her brother face-to-face since July 18, 2022.
“His older brothers Adam and Jonathan keep Theo amused on video calls talking about football and motorbikes.
“Caroline has stayed by Theo’s side day and night and Martin travels daily from her home in Armagh to Belfast to visit her, so they have both had to say goodbye to their jobs, which in itself causes financial worries on top of everything else.
“We have set up a GoFundMe page to support the Smyths financially to try and take some of their worries and burdens away while supporting their child through the greatest struggle they have ever faced.”
To donate to Theo’s leukemia journey, visit GoFundMe here.
https://www.independent.ie/news/former-ulster-and-ireland-rugby-star-rory-best-sends-good-wishes-to-11-year-old-boy-battling-cancer-41920500.html Former Ulster and Ireland rugby star Rory Best sends well wishes to 11-year-old boy who is battling cancer