Mums unite in childhood cancer fight

FLASH BACK: Kieran Maxwell, with his parents Nicola and Alistair, shortly before his left leg was amputated at the knee

HAPPY MEMORIES: Henry Dancer before he began cancer treatment

UNITED FRONT: Jane Nattrass and Nicola Maxwell are both parents of children who have had cancer. Jane's son Henry died of the disease in 2010. They are campaigning to raise the profile of Childhood' Cancer Awareness Month this September and are pi

UNITED FRONT: Jane Nattrass and Nicola Maxwell are both parents of children who have had cancer. Jane's son Henry died of the disease in 2010. They are campaigning to raise the profile of Childhood' Cancer Awareness Month this September and are pi

UNITED FRONT: Jane Nattrass and Nicola Maxwell are both parents of children who have had cancer. Jane's son Henry died of the disease in 2010. They are campaigning to raise the profile of Childhood' Cancer Awareness Month this September and are pi

First published in News by

TWO North-East mums have teamed up to raise awareness of childhood cancer, after both saw their sons diagnosed with the disease.

Jane Nattrass, from Lanchester, County Durham, lost her 12-year-old son Henry Dancer to osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, in 2010.

She has joined forces with Nicola Maxwell, from Heighington, near Darlington, whose son Kieran was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, another form of bone cancer, at the age of 12.

Kieran's treatment resulted in his left leg being amputated at the knee.

Now 16, the youngster is currently in remission having battled the condition for four years.

The boys would have been the same age, had Henry survived.

Both received treatment at the Great North Children’s Hospital, part of the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and Mrs Nattrass and Mrs Maxwell are asking people to help them raise awareness of one of the less common childhood cancers, bone and soft tissue Sarcomas throughout the North-East.

Sarcoma cases are among the most rare, with 360 children and young people diagnosed every year.

Charities and support groups also plan to adopt the gold ribbon, which is increasingly becoming the symbol for childhood cancer awareness worldwide.

Every day, ten children in the UK are diagnosed with cancer.

Survival rates for bone tumours are among the lowest of all childhood cancers.

Although survival rates have improved in recent years, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

Childhood cancers differ from adult cancers in that symptoms are non-specific, there are no screening tests, children get different forms of cancer to adults and most forms are not inherited or caused by lifestyle.

The women say a low proportion of funding goes into research into childhood cancers compared to other forms.

Mrs Nattrass set up the charity Henry Dancer Days in her sons memory.

It supports families affected by childhood cancer and has raised £140,000 in two years, helping 90 families nationwide.

She said: "I also work voluntarily for the Bone Cancer Research Trust and one of the things we find is, because of the low numbers of children who are diagnosed, it can be difficult to carry out clinical trials.

"It is very difficult to ask for consent for trials from parents whose children are going through treatment."

Mrs Maxwell said late diagnosis can also be a danger, adding: "With Kieran, we went to our GP and for 14 months, we were told it was growing pains.

"I don't blame the GP, they had not heard of Ewing's Sarcoma.

"In some cases, tragically, the diagnosis comes too late and the cancer has become terminal."

Both women are urging parents to be on the lookout for possible symptoms.

For more information, visit childrenwithcancer.org.uk

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