Ten weeks ago he was a happy, lively youngster ... then doctors discovered an aggressive, inoperable brain tumour. Jessica Shaughnessy talks to Sam Fynn and his family.
Ten weeks ago Sam Fynn was just like any other six-year-old boy.
Affectionately known to his family as a chatter-box, he loved to ride his bike and his hero was Mini Me from the Austin Powers movies.
But then doctors made a discovery that changed him forever and shattered his family - a rare and terrible tumour deep in his brain stem.
'Everything has happened so quickly,' said Sam's mum. 'When we were told it was a tumour, I went white, but at first we hoped they could operate.
'But then they told us they couldn't. The shock was unbearable. I felt all the colour going out of my face and my body, and I went cold.'
During the weeks before his diagnosis, Sam, a Gorsthills Primary School pupil of Elaine Close, Great Sutton, seemed perfectly healthy.
Over Christmas, he had seemed under the weather and developed a inexplicable black eye but quickly got better.
Caroline said: 'I remember him saying to me in March, 'I am seeing two of everything'. But he was in the car facing the sun and I thought it was because he was squinting.
'He didn't mention it for weeks, but then he said it again and I took him to the doctors. That was the only thing that was wrong with him, so the doctor thought he may have a slight turn in one eye and referred him to the eye clinic.
'Then as soon as we left, I looked at him and one of his eyes turned in. I called the doctor and he prioritised the appointment. But we never made it to the clinic. That weekend, his eye had got so bad we took him to the Countess of Chester Hospital.'
For Caroline and Sam's dad Andrew Fynn, every parent's worst nightmare came true when scans showed Sam had cancer.
She continued: 'Sam was referred to Alder Hey. We were told they could work miracles there and we went to an appointment expecting a date for an operation.
'But the doctor came in and said 'I am sorry but there is just no way we can operate'.'
Doctors had just discovered Sam's Glioblastoma Multiforme tumour was on his brain stem. It was grade four, the most aggressive kind.
Caroline said: 'It's a very rare type of tumour. Most doctors have never seen it before and Sam's doctors probably never will again.
'They just don't know enough about it to treat it, there is nothing they can do.'
Desperate for help, Sam's family contacted world famous surgeons in America for help, but even they said they could not treat Sam.
Last week, the youngster completed a course of radiotherapy in a bid to shrink the tumour and slow down its progress.
Battling Sam is already beating the odds. 'Doctors didn't expect him to still be with us,' said Caroline.
The intense treatment has left him unable to move the left side of his body and he has nearly doubled in weight.
Though he is not suffering from crippling headaches or nausea like other brain tumour patients, Sam has become more withdrawn.
Caroline explained: 'Sam was quite shy anyway, but now he is very self conscious about the way he looks. He doesn't like to look in mirrors.
'He is fine when the family are around and he still has his great sense of humour. He says the funniest things, he is six going on 26. But when he is alone, he is very thoughtful. He is sad that he can't ride his bike anymore.
'That's why we got him his new dog Todd. He had always wanted a beagle puppy and we weren't sure it was a good idea. But nurses told us it would be good for him and give him something to live for.'
Now Sam's family is concentrating on making these next weeks as happy for Sam as they can be.
With the help of a Starlight Children's Foundation Grant, they are taking Sam, his brother Damian, 12, and sister Shanie, 10, to Disneyland Paris.
Sam's grandparents Graham and Diane Fair, of Winsford Grove, Great Sutton, and other relatives are also able to make the journey.
Caroline said: 'Sam really wants to go to Disneyland but he is upset that Todd can't go. The charity is paying for us to go for two nights and we are going to pay to stay an extra day.
'Some family members are able to pay to come with us, but some are unable to even though they desperately want to. This only happened ten weeks ago and they cannot afford to spend £1,600 at such short notice.
'We want to do something else for Sam when all his cousins, aunts, uncles and Todd can be with him.'
The family has now launched the Sam Fynn Appeal, which will be kick-started with a fundraising event this weekend.
They hope to raise up to £3,000 to take Sam, his beloved dog Todd and his whole family to a Centre Parcs resort for a week.
Any monies left over from the appeal after Sam has been treated to his holiday will go to a cancer research charity.
Caroline said: 'We asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to go somewhere with his dog and he wanted everybody else to go.'
Things have to move quickly. Sam's doctors may decide he is fit enough to have chemotherapy at the end of August and if he has the treatment, he will not be able to travel again.
So the holiday has to take place in the first two weeks of August.
Caroline added: 'I just want to make sure that these next weeks are full of happy times for Sam's sake and for his brother and sister.'
The Sam Fynn Appeal: Can you help? >>>
The Sam Fynn Appeal: Can you help?
We are asking Chronicle readers to help the Fynn family reach their target of £3,000 in just four weeks to help pay for a family holiday for little Sam.
Although the family is planning a Disneyland Paris trip this month, Sam won't be able to take his beloved dog Todd with him to the resort.
So he has set his heart on going away with his close-knit family and Todd on a trip to Centre Parcs at the beginning of August - just before doctors decide whether or not the little boy is strong enough for a course of chemotherapy.
Can you make a donation to the Sam Fynn Appeal? Or can you raise money by holding a fundraising event at your place of work or school?
If you want to make a contribution, send a cheque payable to Sam Fynn to The Chester Chronicle, Commonhall Street, Chester, CH1 2AA.
Because of the rapid progression of Sam's illness, his family have not yet been able to set up a trust fund account. The details of this account will be published as and when they are available.
If you have an idea for a fundraising event of your own call the newsdesk on 01244 606424 or e-mail email@example.com