A grandmother from Sunderland has entered the Simplyhealth Great North Run to fundraise for Children’s Cancer Research, a charity close to her heart.
In November 2016, Julie-Ann Collins’ grandson, Ethan was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Julie-Ann, 49, said: “I had just finished work when his mum called me to take her to the hospital, where her partner was with Ethan.
“When we got to the ward, all I could do was hold Ethan who was now like a newborn baby and so weak, while his parents went to speak to the consultants. They returned with the devastating news that initially broke us.
“They managed to remove the majority of the tumour during a six hour operation but the prognosis was poor; he had been given a 20% chance of survival.
“We were devastated. He looked so weak, surrounded by wires and machines but he still managed a little smile.
“The months that followed were a journey of ups and downs as he has fought infections, dealt with the side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments.
“We as a family have all played our part in staying with him at hospital, or looking after his older brother.
“It has been draining yet humbling as we have seen so many children affected by cancer, wearing smiles and just getting on with life.”
Despite the outlook, Julie-Ann and her family finally got some good news this summer.
She said: “Fortunately, for us Ethan defied the odds and is now in remission as of July.
“He came out of hospital last Monday, which we hope is permanent
“We are very positive about his future and are now focusing on helping him with his development, as he is unable to sit up and has no vocabulary; however, at least he is with us and is happy.”
The experience motivated Julie-Ann to support others who have been in her position and raise money for Children’s Cancer Research.
She said: “I was inspired to give something back as I know that without research, we would not have our baby with us today.”
Julie-Ann will be joining thousands of other runners on Sunday 10 September at the Simplyhealth Great North Run.
She’ll be easy to spot amongst the crowds as she won’t be in the typical running gear.
She said: “The charity was looking for someone to take part wearing one of their costumes to promote the charity.
“I was initially going to go for a personal best but as the Little Miss Sunshine costume is rather heavy, I don’t think that will happen!”
When Julie-Ann crosses the finish line in South Shields, it will be another way to celebrate how far Ethan has come.