A couple, whose son has been treated for a rare brain tumour, have launched a year-long fund-raiser in support of a local charity which raises money for research into children’s cancer.
Amy and Alex Fawcett, both 34, from Stannington, are tackling a series of challenges next year to raise at least £11,000 for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research fund (NECCR) after their three-year-old son, Joseph, was diagnosed with the disease.
Joseph was just eight months old when he was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour (ATRT) in July 2013. His treatment included 11 bouts of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant which spanned the course of seven months. During that time, he spent only a handful of nights at home with his mum and dad, spending most of his time in hospital.
Amy said: “The road to Joseph’s diagnosis was bumpy and took a long time. Alex and I were constantly back and forth to the doctors, only to be told he just had a virus. One night I looked at Joseph and realised he’d lost movement in one side of his face. We were desperately worried. He became seriously ill, and doctors rushed him straight to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“We were completely devastated and our lives were totally uprooted at this point. We were living day-to-day, just hoping that Joseph would get better. When you see a child go through chemotherapy, you wonder how it could possibly be making them better because they become so ill.
“The doctors and nurses on the paediatric oncology ward were absolutely incredible and made our time in hospital as comfortable as possible.Whenever Joseph goes back to hospital for his regular scans and check-up appointments, they’re always so pleased to see the progress he’s made. Joseph’s treatment was a success and thankfully there have been no signs of his cancer returning in a year-and-a-half, but we are still living scan to scan.
“The treatment has affected Joseph in other ways, he’s suffered loss of hearing and damage to his immune system. But despite that, Joseph is doing very well, he attends nursery two days a week and enjoys playing with his one-year-old brother, William.”
Amy and Alex have pledged to raise £11,000 – £1,000 for every bout of chemotherapy Joseph endured.
They aim to tackle at least 14 sporting challenges in 2016, including the Abu Dhabi Triathlon, the Edinburgh Marathon, Tough Mudder Midlands, the Morpeth to Newcastle Half-Marathon and the Great North Run.
Amy said: “We decided to do this because we thought, if Joseph can go through all of that gruelling treatment, then how hard can a bit of running be?
“We are not sporty people at all, so it feels great to get out of our comfort zone and do something which is going to help so many other children.
“We’re encouraging everyone to get involved and sponsor us or take on their own fund-raising activity.
“We also want to spread the word far and wide about how important the work is that the NECCR does. Without research into childhood cancer treatments, we wouldn’t have Joseph with us today.”
Janet Price, fund-raiser for the NECCR, said: “We are so pleased that Amy and her family have decided to take on such an epic challenge on behalf of our charity.
“It is people like Amy and Alex who really make a difference when it comes to funding research into childhood cancer treatments.
“Children with the type of rare cancer Joseph had are given just a 10 per cent chance of survival.
“So it’s vital we continue to fund research into all forms of childhood cancers to ensure more young people like Joseph are around to grow up.”
Amy and Alex will start the year of challenges with the Morpeth Road Race on New Year’s Day. The whole family will hopefully take part in the Children’s Cancer Run on May 15.
To keep up to date on all challenges, visit https://www.facebook.com/josephs
appeal and https://twitter.com/josephsappeal
To make a donation, visit https://www.justgiving.com/josephsappeal