THE parents of a baby boy battling against leukaemia have spoken of their heartache at being branded "scroungers" by unfeeling folk suspicious of their fund-raising.
Little Corie O'Brien was just five months old when he was diagnosed with the disease, "tearing apart" his family.
He was put on a gruelling course of treatment that nearly killed him and his devastated parents were forced to put their lives on hold.
But after well-wishers raised money for Corie, who has just turned one, mum Maxine Hunter was confronted by a woman who accused her of exaggerating Corie's condition to cash in.
Maxine, 25, said: "Sometimes I get really angry because people can be so unsympathetic and say we're just doing it for the money. I think they do it because they have never seen Corie looking really poorly."
"But if they had seen him on morphine for three weeks and on steroids to get him into remission, they would know just how sick he is."
"If they had watched him being starved for 60 hours, if they had seen the skin fall off his bottom and it bleed profusely, they would not say the cruel things they do."
Maxine, who also has a daughter Shannon, six, with partner Graham O'Brien, said they were taking each day as it came after being told Corie had at best a 50 per cent chance of survival.
"We nearly lost him," she said. "He's in remission now, but I don't want to say he will be fine because I'm scared of it cursing him. If the leukaemia comes back within five years he will need a bone marrow transplant so we're hoping and praying he will be okay."
The couple, who have been together for eight years and live in York Close, Clayton-le-Moors, said they were suffering from depression after fighting through the hardest time of their lives.
Maxine said: "Shannon had to move in with my mum for a few months because we were at the hospital all the time. And Graham had to give up his job as a lorry driver."
The couple hope to raise enough money to take Corie for a long weekend in Wales after a fund-raiser tomorrow night at the United Services Club in Great Harwood.