Families affected by childhood cancer were among the special guests invited to the state-of-the-art MediCinema at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle this month to launch the 2018 Children’s Cancer Run.
The Children’s Cancer Run, organised by North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR), is now in its 36th year and has raised millions of pounds for research into childhood cancers.
The run, which will be held at Newcastle Racecourse on Sunday, 20th May, was officially opened for entries at the launch event by families whose lives had been directly affected by childhood cancer. During the launch event NECCR premiered a short film in the RVI’s MediCinema highlighting the heartbreaking impacts childhood cancer has on families in the North of England and demonstrating the importance of research in the development of better outcomes for patients.
Fahad Alateef, aged six, from Gosforth, Newcastle along with his mum, Nouf, his dad, Saad, his brother Ahad were invited as special guests to the official launch event.
In January 2017 at age, just five, Fahad Alateef from Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, rapidly developed a number of symptoms including a fever, joint pain, lack of appetite and night sweats. By February, and after numerous tests, Fahad was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma turning his and his family’s lives upside down.
Fahad’s dad, Saad said: “As Fahad began his treatment it was hard to comprehend how difficult this would be for our entire family. A real tough moment for us all was when our son had to undergo biopsies on a lump on his neck under just local anesthetic. Staff in the operating theatre wouldn’t allow Fahad to be placed under general anesthetic because the lump in his neck was pushing on his air path, which could have been made worse while Fahad was asleep, leading to complications for the five year-old.
“The biopsy confirmed the type of cancer cells that were growing on Fahad’s body which provided doctors with the information they needed to place him on the correct treatment plan. At this point, under general anesthetic, he then had to have a catheter inserted into a vein in his chest in order for chemotherapy to be administered.
“On the 28th of February Fahad began a four month course of chemotherapy – being admitted to the RVI twice during these four cycles of treatment. On the second occasion that Fahad was admitted he developed a chest infection which had to be resolved with antibiotics before he could continue with the rest of his treatment.
“The most challenging part of his treatment was trying to strengthen Fahad’s health as much as possible before, during and after each course of chemotherapy to ensure he was more resistant to infection. While all of this was going on we also had to try to make his life as normal as possible and as he was going to lose his hair both Fahad and myself decided to shave our heads.”
After four months of intensive treatment, (February – June, 2017), Fahad was allowed to come home permanently and return to school after being absent for 15 weeks Fahad.
Saad continued: “Fahad was so excited to rejoin his friends at school and settled back in almost immediately. We received lots of support and encouragement from his teachers and classmates which we were very grateful for.
“Fahad continued with antibiotics for a further four months with monthly visits to the RVI so that nurses could flush Fahad’s Port-A-Cath – an essential process to prevent clot formation and catheter occlusion. During this time Fahad would also undergo blood tests, chest x-rays and MRI imaging. In December, 2017 they were finally able to remove his port under general anesthetic and Fahad now visits his consultant every six weeks for normal check-ups.
“It was through Fahad’s previous school that we first heard about the NECCR. His former head teacher told me about the charity’s Children’s Cancer Run that takes place at Newcastle Racecourse each year. Schools from across the North East come together for one common cause of raising money to help fight childhood cancers.”
The Run offers five mile, three mile and ‘mini mile’ cross country tracks to ensure families and runners of all ages and abilities can take part in the fun run, which is one of the largest single charity run events in Europe.
Roger Whiteside, Chief Executive of leading on-the-go food retailer and main corporate supporter of the run, Greggs, said: “We’re thrilled to once again be able to support the Children’s Cancer Run, which each year manages to rally so many North East communities to come together for a good cause and a tremendous day out.”
Chris Peacock, Chairman of the NECCR, said: “As a childhood cancer survivor myself research into children’s cancer is vitally important to me. The NECCR was set up in 1979 by a group of parents who had mostly lost their children to cancer and since that time we’ve raised over £30million pounds for research here in Newcastle.
“Childhood cancer is still the leading cause of non-accidental death in children in the UK and in the North East alone over 100 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. We try and fund research here in the region to put a stop to this deadly disease and every penny raised through the Children’s Cancer Run goes directly to supporting the development of new therapies and less toxic treatments for children with cancer.”
30 years ago the survival rate of a child with cancer was just 30%, now thanks to research, over 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will survive.
The Children’s Cancer Run is offering early bird entry rates up until Saturday, 31st March. Participants can enter as a single runner, a team, as a family or with their school.
Last year, the event raised £249,000 for the NECCR, adding to the £7million which has already been raised by Children’s Cancer runners over the past 36 years.
To enter, join or create a team, or for more details about the event, please visit: www.childrenscancerrun.co.uk