Coronation Street child star Hayden battles kidney cancer aged just six
Child actor diagnosed with a kidney tumour in the summer after losing his appetite
Brave youngster has undergone chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapyInvited to Manchester City to meet his footballer idols and inspired them to win match 5-0
17:02 GMT, 19 December 2012
Brave: Hayden Whitbread tells friends his cancer surgery scar came from fighting a shark
A child actor who won the heart of millions as loveable Freddie Peacock in Coronation Street, is battling cancer at the tender age of six.
Hayden Whitbread, from Denton in Greater Manchester, who took turns playing the soap character with his twin brother Dylan, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumour in June.
About 70 children in the UK develop a Wilms' tumour – which is a type of kidney cancer – each year. One of the first symptoms is a swollen abdomen and if caught early there is a 90 per cent chance of beating it.
The football-mad youngster insisted on turning up for his chemotherapy treatment in his Manchester City kit, after they inspired him by winning their first league title in 44 years.
His treatment has caused his blonde hair to fall out and left him with a scar on his stomach where doctors removed the growth. However, Hayden has refused to let it get him down, telling friends his scar was due to a fight with a shark.
His proud mother Joanne, a teaching assistant, said: 'Our lives have been totally turned upside down, but Hayden has kept us
'No matter what has been thrown at him, he's taken it in his
stride and kept smiling.'
Hayden was diagnosed this summer after he became exhausted
and lost his appetite on holiday.
Tests at the Royal Manchester
Children's Hospital revealed he had a tumour on his kidney and he had to
start urgent treatment.
He underwent six weeks of chemotherapy,
followed by surgery to remove his kidney and appendix. Hayden required
radiotherapy and further chemotherapy but has continued to go to primary school as often as possible.
His parents Joanne, 41, and Steve, 39, hope he will finish his treatment at the end of
To boost his spirits Hayden was invited to visit the Manchester City training ground, where he met boss Roberto Mancini and all the players including his idol Joe Hart.
The pair hit it off after they were
introduced and the England goalkeeper even took him into the nets for
some one-to-one training.
Child star: Hayden pictured in 2007 as Freddie Peacock on Coronation Street with characters Rhona and Ashley
Mrs Whitbread said: 'We are a family of City fans – and
Hayden absolutely loves the club. He hasn't stopped talking about
meeting the players since the visit – and it really did help to cheer
'They were lovely with him, including Mario Balotelli who had a little chat with him and called him his mate.
'Hayden even saw his car – a camouflaged Bentley – and he was really impressed by that. It made his dreams come true.'
Joe Hart told Hayden and his mother that he had been inspired by his bravery and asked him to be mascot for a game at the Etihad
Stadium last month. They won the game against Aston Villa 5-0.
A City spokesman said: 'He is a terrific young boy and his bravery and character is an inspiration to us all.
'We'd like to thank him for being our lucky mascot against Villa, by leading us out and helping us to a 5-0 win.'
Secret weapon: Hayden gives Joe Hart a run for his money as goalkeeper. He then saw Manchester City win 5-0 at the match where he was the mascot
He has also received a Cancer Research UK Little Star award in recognition of his bravery. The awards acknowledge the unique challenges faced by youngsters who encounter cancer.
In Coronation Street, Hayden was last seen as Freddie fleeing with his soap mother Claire to start a new life in France in 2010.
Actress Julia Haworth, who played
Claire, was one of the first to donate to the charity fund the family
set up to help Manchester Children's Hospital where Hayden has received
Hayden's four brothers, father, uncle, grandfather and two cousins have all shaved their heads in support of the cause.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/supportourward
VIDEO Hayden Whitbread meets his hero Joe Hart
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