When TV chef Jean-Christophe Novelli recently revealed that his 10 week old son Valentino had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare cancer of the nervous system – the world was in shock.
And while the news was devastating enough for JC and his fiancee Michelle Kennedy to deal with, they faced the added ordeal of having to try to explain to their other children Jean Frankie, eight, and Jacques, four, why their darling Valentino has been so poorly.
Speaking in an emotional interview on This Morning, Jean-Christophe explained that he was terrified about telling them the news of their brother’s condition and was concerned about the heartache the news would have caused.
“It’s been difficult,” he revealed on This Morning. ” They clearly knew something as Valentino was not at home.
“One morning, I was taking my eight-year-old to school and he said to me, ‘I don’t understand. Everyone is mentioning Valentino’s name at school’. At that point I realised I had to tell them the truth.
“I had to sit them down and tell them what cancer is and what was going on.”
Tiny Valentino was only born on September 7, weighing 6lbs 1oz. All seemed well to start with until his parents felt an unusually hard lump in his neck and instantly knew something was wrong. It turned out to be stage 4S neuroblastoma.
“The thing is with cancer, you always believe it will be somebody else…on both sides of the family there is no history of cancer,” Jean-Christophe explained.
Although Neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of childhood cancers and around a third of sufferers will not see their fifth birthday, there is hope.
Because tests have shown that the cancer has not spread, statistically, tiny Valentino has an 83% chance of survival.
Dr Ranj, who also appeared on the show, reassured the celebrated chef that Valentino stood a good chance of recovering because of his young age.
For now, Valentino has four rounds of chemotherapy to get through, but we sure he’s a little fighter.