Saturday, June 22, 2024

How we can help a brave little boy called Sumner Malik

The Malik squash family with Sumner in the middle of the front row
The Malik squash family with Sumner in the middle of the front row

Squash community rallies round
By SQUASH MUM – Special Correspondent


For all that the participants are spread all over the country, the world of junior squash can be a tight knit community. Adults and kids alike get to meet people from all over the country and enduring friendships are formed between the parents and the players.

At one of the very first competitions Squash Child participated in, hen he was probably no more than six, we bumped into some impressive lads, both older than Squash Child (thank goodness!) called Perry and Curtis Malik. Over the years we bumped into them a lot more and were introduced to their sister Torrie and then their triplet sons, Heston, Bailey and Sumner.

Squash Child regularly found himself playing one or other of the triplets (to be honest it was hard to keep track of which one..!), and I often wondered how their dad, Camron, kept tabs on which one of his offspring was playing where and when, even with Perry and Curtis helping out.

We have seen all six of the Malik youngsters develop into impressive players, Torrie perhaps especially, and the triplets are all pushing on. They seem to have been competing for years, but remarkably they are still only ten years old I think.

The triplets meet national champions Laura Massaro and Nick Matthew
The triplets meet national champions Laura Massaro and Nick Matthew

Earlier this week I was shocked to discover that one of the triplets, Sumner, has been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer of the brain. Not only is it inoperable, but all other treatment options are limited and no definitively effective treatment has yet been found.

This is not fair. When one of our children is ill, we take them to the doctor and they get some medicine and they get better – isn’t that right? I have never been in the position where this was not possible with any of my three children and if I’m honest, I have never given much thought to what I would do if I was.

And now, I can only imagine what it must feel like to be told that your child has an illness which not only can’t be cured, but which could potentially take that child from you in a frighteningly short time. I’m sure anything I can imagine falls a million miles short of the reality and my heart truly goes out to this family.

As I understand it, research is being undertaken in various facilities but access to trials and experimental new treatment options is limited. The Malik family have started a crowdfunding campaign to try to fund access to the best possible treatment available globally for Sumner.

Lots of individuals have so far donated, and the squash world being what it is, a lot of big names have given support and provided widespread publicity for the campaign. Could I urge you to consider doing the same? We would surely all want this for our child if we were in a similar position – if you can help, in any way, please please do.

Clubs and players like Nick Matthew have already expressed their public support and the PSA Squash TV technical wizard Laurent Cossa is collecting some gear from the professional players at the NetSuite Open in San Francisco to auction off to raise funds for Sumner.

I have often heard people who are involved in squash, whether as participants, parents or just fans, described as “the squash family”. Let’s pull together as a family now and try to help Camron, Suzan, Curtis, Perry, Torrie, Heston and Bailey bring sunshine for Sumner. Thank you.

The costs of treatment in the USA
The costs of treatment in the USA

Sumner’s father, Camron, writes: Back at the end of July, Sumner started missing the ball and not moving correctly. At the Dutch Junior Open, he wasn’t playing as he can. We came back and noticed at school he was saying that things looked closer than they were.

Then he was struggling to swallow food. We were due to go away on holiday and whilst away we treated it as swollen glands. He was also speaking with a gargle. Whilst in Spain he started training and noticed that he lost balance a couple of times and we were carrying on treating with anti-inflammatories.

Finally, on returning from Spain, he started vomiting once back. He was due to enter the Devon & Exeter Silver event. Unfortunately Sumner performed very poorly, understandably!

On our return we took him to our local GP, who also treated it as a viral infection. However, a few more days passed with still no improvement. In the end Sumner wanted to go to County Squad on the Sunday so we took him and then made a family decision to take him to A&E in Brighton. Luckily we did. Three hours later we ended up being blue lighted up to King’s College Hospital in London, where, on the Monday, he was diagnosed with DIPG DIFFUSE Pontine Glioma.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All that is being offered at this time in England is a course of radiotherapy which we are currently in the middle of.

Luckily we noticed these symptoms in a period of six weeks of this ugly disease.

We have been given the cost of treatment options that are available in the USA but the cost is prohibitive.

Also, this is one option of costs in the States were looking at. As you can see, it is way out of anything realistically.

We certainly feel the love and support just now, which is what we believe makes the squash community a little bit more special.

Squash is not as rich as other sports but certainly more caring. We’ve only asked for £80,000 on just giving page but since that was set up we’ve had the above kind of fees being slung about. That means we might need to reevaluate the target.

Sumner’s condition is extremely rare. Only 30 to 40 kids get dipg in UK and approximately 300 in the States.

No real money is spent on research and development or cures. Also, currently no trials are available in the UK at present. That’s not to say there won’t be in the near future. But we don’t know how long we have.


Squash Mad urges all readers to support the JustGiving page set up to fund the necessary medical fees.


Read more

Latest News