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Ipswich: Brave Sam Ford, 14, can now hug mum Emma after ‘miracle’ cure at The Rowan Centre in Leiston helps beat chronic fatigue

PUBLISHED: 18:11 21 May 2014 | UPDATED: 18:11 21 May 2014

Sam Ford, the 14- year old boy who could not be hugged, can now be hugged by his mum Emma after a 'miracle' short stay at Thye Rowan Centre in Leiston.
L-R Riona Rowland, Sam Ford, Emma Ford, Jack Ford, Niamh Ford and Shadow.

Sam Ford, the 14- year old boy who could not be hugged, can now be hugged by his mum Emma after a 'miracle' short stay at Thye Rowan Centre in Leiston. L-R Riona Rowland, Sam Ford, Emma Ford, Jack Ford, Niamh Ford and Shadow.

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A brave 14-year-old boy who has battled crippling illnesses all his life has made a “miracle” breakthrough recovery – and can now hug his mum again free of pain.

The odds have always been stacked against Sam Ford. He has ME, known as chronic fatigue syndrome, and has suffered from Extreme Hypermobility Syndrome since he was a child, leaving his vulnerable joints prone to injury.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with Regional Chronic Pain Syndrome (RCPS), leaving his devoted mother, Emma Ford, unable to hug her eldest son.

Countless NHS treatments and physiotherapy proved ineffective for Sam, who left his friends at Holbrook Academy to be home-schooled.

However, after his plight was first documented in the Ipswich Star in January, health and wellbeing provider The Rowan Centre offered a free three-day programme at their Leiston base.

It was a lifeline the Shotley Gate family could not pass up – and the results have completely blown them away.

“It’s like I’ve got my son back again,” an emotional Emma, 38, said. “To be rid of the pain he felt every day after just a three-day course is absolutely amazing. It is nothing short of a miracle.

“We walked the dog the other day which is something we have not done for at least 18 months and he asked ‘can I go for a run?’ I said ‘of course you can’ with a lump in my throat. He came back and said ‘something has really changed. I don’t feel like I have just run a marathon’.”

He rode a bike for the first time in two years and car journeys are no longer a traumatic experience. He is off daily painkillers and medication, while his fightback has inspired his siblings Jack, 12, Niamh, eight, and seven-year-old Riona.

“I can now hug him… he can now hold his sisters’ hands,” a teary Emma added.

“I did not want another 14 years (of fighting the illnesses). Our huge thanks goes to The Rowan Centre. Sam will always have ME but he now has the tools to manage it.

“It is just nice to see Sam confident again. He is growing in to the man he was always meant to be.”

Steve Fawdry, a co-founder of The Rowan Centre, explained the process behind the BodyMind programme.

“Sam has completed phase one: preparation and is about to embark on phase two: education and training. He will learn about the brain-body connection, the physiology of stress, how the chronic stress response becomes established and how it impacts on various body systems,” he said.

“Stress hormones have a detrimental effect on the regulation of pain messages from the periphery to the brain, and they can also impact on the patient’s natural ability to release endorphins that sooth pain.

“This creates a chaotic, vicious cycle. To create a healing cycle, Sam will learn strategies and techniques to use on a moment-by-moment basis. This will enable his brain and body to switch off the stress response and allow the proper regulation of pain messages and endorphins.

“He will effectively retrain his brain and body back into healing and recovery that become established over time.”

Sam went back to school last Thursday for the first time in two years. He said he is looking forward to just living a “normal life”, adding: “Everyone at school was really pleased to see me back. I just want to live life and be happy.”

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