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A Northumberland couple, whose son was treated for a rare brain tumour, launched a year-long fundraiser in December in support of a local charity which raises money for research into children’s cancer.

In just three months, Amy and Alex Fawcett, both 34 from Stannington, have smashed their target by raising over £11,000, a task which was originally scheduled to take all year. The self-confessed ‘un-sporty’ couple, along with family and friends, had planned to take part in a series of grueling sporting challenges throughout the course of 2016 to raise money for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research fund (NECCR) after their son, Joseph, was diagnosed with cancer.

Joseph was just eight months old when he was diagnosed with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT) in July of 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.

Joseph’s mum, 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. He has a scan coming up soon, and all being well, this will mark his two-year anniversary of being cancer free.

“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 two-year-old brother, William.”

Amy and Alex pledged to raise £11,000 – £1,000 for every bout of chemotherapy Joseph endured – by undertaking at least 14 sporting challenges and fundraising events in 2016. So far the couple have completed only a handful of the events and have already met their target. However, the family aren’t resting on their laurels and will continue to go ahead with challenges including the Edinburgh Marathon, Tough Mudder Midlands, the Morpeth to Newcastle Half Marathon and the Great North Run.

Amy continued: “There has been overwhelming support for the appeal. When we first started we had so many people asking what they could do to help and from then on we’ve been overrun with donations and people creating their own events to raise even more money. It really has become its own network of people coming to help and we couldn’t be more grateful.

“Knowing that Joseph has so much support is a lovely thought for our family – and he loves the attention! His story has obviously touched many people and it makes us want to work even harder to raise as much money as possible.”

Janet Price, fundraiser for the NECCR, said: “The achievement that has been made by the Fawcett family is absolutely incredible. To have already smashed their huge £11,000 target in just a quarter of the time they expected is simply fantastic and we at the NECCR cannot be more grateful. We will continue to support the family throughout the year in the hope of perhaps raising another £11,000!

“Donations go towards helping find treatments which are less harmful to children with cancer. Children like Joseph are given just a 10% chance of survival which is why it is vital to continue to fund research into all forms of childhood cancers to ensure more young people like Joseph can grow up and live normal lives.”

To read more about Joseph’s story, please visit http://josephsappeal.co.uk/. To keep up to date on all challenges, visit https://www.facebook.com/josephsappeal and https://twitter.com/josephsappeal.

To make a donation, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/teams/josephsappeal. If you would like to discuss your own fundraising ideas, you can contact Alex on alex@josephsappeal.co.uk or Amy on amy@josephsappeal.co.uk.

If you’d like to find out more about the NECCR, please visit http://www.neccr.org.uk/, or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChildrensCancerResearch and Twitter page at https://twitter.com/NECCR.

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