The day started like any other, rushing around trying to get ready for work and while helping to get the kids ready. One exception was my son Brody, who had been under the weather for a few days.
My wife said that she was going to try and get an appointment with the doctor, and I thought nothing of it. Anyone with small children will know that they are always picking up bugs, especially when they are two as Brody was at the time.
By the end of the day, we were in Ward 4 in the Great North Children’s Hospital and our lives were changed forever. We learned that Brody had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and that he was facing six months of intensive treatment and more that three years of chemotherapy, operations, and tests.
Brody started treatment on his second day in the hospital, and we adjusted to a new routine of trying to entertain a normally very active two-year-old whilst he was attached to a drip and confined to the ward.
During those few weeks, I learned a lot about childhood cancer and the work that has been done over the past fifty years to develop better treatments for these diseases.
Newcastle is one of the leading children’s cancer research centres in Europe, and work done in the labs a short distance from the Great North Children’s Hospital has benefitted kids around the world.
I realised that the brilliant life-saving treatment that my son was now receiving was down to decades of research, and I saw an opportunity to make something good come out of the situation that we now found ourselves in by raising funds for future research.
I had taken up running soon before my son got ill, and suggested to my wife that I could do a sponsored run to raise money for North of England Children’s Cancer Research, the local charity which funds the research at NECCR Labs in Newcastle.
With a child undergoing treatment for cancer you feel powerless. There isn’t much that you can do as a parent but give them lots of love and encouragement, but fundraising gave me a way to make a difference.
Friends and family who had wanted to do something to help got behind our fundraising efforts and donated money. They also started to fundraise themselves organising bake sales and doing their own sporting endeavours.
We’d hoped to raise £5,000, but in the first six months, we raised more than double that amount.
Training for my race helped add structure to my life and gave me the excuse I needed to get out of the house and run off steam. After a day at the hospital or broken nights sleep the peace that running brought was a massive help to me personally.
Over the next few years I ran lots of races and raised more money, and in January 2016 Brody finished his treatment. Now he’s running and fundraising too.
We’re really grateful for the treatment that he received and we hope that my fundraising for the NECCR we can help other families who are facing cancer.
Jim Richardson became the Vice Chairman of North of England Children’s Cancer Research in 2013 following his fundraising efforts.
If you’re interested in fundraising for the NECCR and helping more kids beat cancer contact our fundraiser Janet on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.neccr.org.uk