Those first few weeks launched us into an unknown world of professionals, procedures and emotions. The learning curve was huge as we tried to comprehend the enormity of what was happening to us. Amongst it all we wanted to make sure that our wonderful family and friends were kept up to date and as informed as possible. And so The Diary of Felix Brown was born.
The aim of the blog was to stop people worrying. Felix hates people worrying and fussing, so the idea was that if the diary was kept updated, people would know where we were at and feel involved in a way. Felix was already getting fed up with people talking about it all of the time.
As the weeks went by, friends of friends started to follow and people were keen to share his story and encourage international followers. The page also attracted interest from the local paper who asked to do a feature on his page. Felix had never been in a newspaper before so he was really keen to find out what it was all about. We thought it would just be a small article, a page filler. To us, what was happening and how Felix was coping was normal; it didn’t seem out of the ordinary to us.
The next day we were amazed to find that Felix was in fact front page with a double-page spread inside. It was a lovely article which emphasised his humour, cheekiness and down to earth nature – we were so proud. The media interest that followed over the next couple of days took us completely by surprise. We were inundated with interview requests from the national press, radio and TV shows such as the Ellen Degeneres show with offers of money as an incentive. It was all too much. It was just meant to be a fun afternoon for Felix and we did not want to profit from what he was enduring, so we politely declined any further interviews.
However, that little toe-dip into the media world saw the likes on the diary rocket beyond belief. What was meant to be a vehicle for keeping family and friends updated was quickly becoming a source of inspiration for others, an avenue to raise awareness and an opportunity to raise money for charity. A month later, whilst Felix was again on a break from treatment, we agreed to him being interviewed by Channel 5. Again, the reasoning behind it was purely to give him something to do and experience something which he would not ordinarily have the opportunity to do. And boy he loved it. He loved getting ‘miked’ up and doing a spot of acting for the camera. It also resulted in more donations on his Justgiving site which was an admirable outcome. Again, we did not receive any money from the interview.
Whilst there are huge positives resulting from the success of his diary, we are constantly monitoring the impact of it on him. He is at the end of the day a 10 year old boy undergoing treatment which is both emotionally and physically gruelling. We regularly weigh up the positives that he is gains from it and consider whether or not it is still a morally good thing to do. With this in mind, we consider the wonderful encouragement from people he receives when times are tough, the gifts and experiences which have generously been offered, the awareness that has been raised, the many donations to charity and how he also helps others cope with their day-to-day life.
We also weigh up the benefits of it for the whole of Team Brown. As I write this, a package has been delivered, organised by someone who has been inspired by his page. This package has made Felix smile more than I could this morning. As part of the package, he has been gifted vouchers to take his family to a well – known restaurant, a place where all three of the children love to go. He doesn’t have much control over anything at the moment, but this, for a moment, will fill him with pride to be able to take us there, the kids will love going and myself and Mr Brown will relish doing something normal. We all benefit and take something from the diary, whether it’s the kind words, uplifting messages, thoughtful gestures and or humour shared on his page, our current situation is, without doubt, made better by it.
So, at this moment at this time, whilst we contemplate the ethics of The Diary of Mr Felix Brown, to us it is nothing but good.