A Chester mum, whose son underwent gruelling treatment for a rare cancer as a baby, is calling for women to take part in the city’s Race for Life on Sunday.
Michele Duerden, of Hoole Lane, Chester, was devastated when doctors told her that her 16-month-old son had a cancer so rare that it had never been treated in their hospital before.
Thankfully son Lewis made a full recovery and is now 15 and planning what to do when he finishes high school.
Michele has been taking part in Race for Life ever since to help Cancer Research UK fund vital research to improve treatments.
The family wanted to share their story to encourage others to take part at this weekend’s Chester event on Sunday, July 17 which starts at Chester Racecourse at 9am.
Michele, 43, said: “Lewis had been off colour and when his dad Steve took him to the doctors, the doctor found a lump in his tummy. The doctors at the Countess of Chester Hospital originally thought Lewis had Wilms tumour – the most common form of kidney cancer in children.
“He was transferred to Alder Hey Hospital where tests later showed he actually had an even rarer type of cancer known as clear cell sarcoma. The doctors had never treated it before.
“Luckily it was caught in the earliest stages – we are so grateful to our GP who was very thorough and spotted the lump.
“The hospital staff had to have conference calls with doctors in Newcastle and in America to decide on Lewis’s treatment programme and he had two types of chemotherapy drugs. One involved staying on a drip for six hours which was very hard.”
Lewis had surgery to remove one of his kidneys and further chemotherapy and was given the all clear just before his second birthday.
Michele said: “Now he’s 15 and taller than me! He has been in remission for over 13 years. I want people to feel hopeful that cancer is treatable and we must continue to search for more cures. That’s why I started doing Race for Life and while I still run today.”
She added: “Chester Race for Life always has a really good vibe. Even though people have been brought together by something sad they are there to do something about it so it’s a positive day.”
The Chester women-only event is one of a series taking place around the UK this year which together help raise millions of pounds every year to help fund life-saving research.
Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Chester Alison Barbuti said: “We are very grateful to Michele and Lewis for helping us to raise awareness about how cancer has affected their lives.
“Every day, around 110 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West. Money raised through Race for Life allows Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists to advance research which is helping to save the lives of men, women and children across the North West and the UK.
“There’s still time to join our Pink Army fighting cancer and sign up for Race for Life Chester by visiting raceforlife.org.”
To enter Race for Life today visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.
Here's a gallery of pictures from last year's Chester Race for Life