A NORTH EAST teenager is celebrating five years in remission from bone cancer as his mother’s colleagues gear up to take part in the Great North Run for the tenth time in his honour.
Alex English, 19, from Ingleby Barwick near Stockton, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in March 2003 when he was just nine years old after being rushed to A&E following a fall at school.
His mother, Gill Lamb, said the family’s life changed in an instant as a result.
She said: “When the doctors were examining Alex’s x-ray they didn’t turn around to look at me because they realised straight away what the problem was.
“Once we heard the news it was like time stood still, I saw stars. It was absolutely devastating.”
Within a week Alex had a biopsy at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to confirm the doctors’ suspicions, then immediately after commenced his first intensive course of chemotherapy at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).
Alex’s chemotherapy continued for two months and then in June he underwent an operation at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to remove the tumour and part of his femur.
Another course of chemotherapy followed and five days before Christmas Day 2003 Alex was released from hospital.
Gill said: “It all happened so quickly, but we had fantastic support from an expert team of nurses and doctors, many of who continue to do Alex’s check-ups to this very day.”
Gill’s colleagues at Barker and Stonehouse in Middlesbrough also rallied around to support the family, with a large group of staff competing in the Great North Run that year to raise money for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund (NECCR).
This year marks a decade since Alex’s diagnosis and a team of 25 Barker and Stonehouse staff from Newcastle through to Leeds have joined forces to run for the 10th year in a row.
To date the retailer has donated more than £110,000 to the NECCR to help with its research into the causes and treatment of childhood cancer at the Children’s Cancer Unit of the RVI.
Gill said: “After Alex had the bone and knee from his left leg removed, he had a prosthetic, moveable implant inserted which has been lengthened many times to match his growth over the years.
“Between the ages of nine and 16 he had around 18 operations and although he’s now well into remission we continue to visit the hospital yearly for examinations.
“We’ve formed such a close bond with the staff at the RVI, like his doctor Juliet Hale, surgeon Craig Gerrand and Clic Sargent member Maureen Cannell, who have taken care of Alex since the very beginning. Without them I don’t know where we would be today, they’ve been instrumental in his recovery.”
Barker and Stonehouse Managing Director James Barker said: “Gill has been part of the team here for over 29 years so when we got the news about Alex everyone was keen to do whatever they could do to help.
“I am immensely proud that this has continued and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to continue our commitment and support for the NECCR since 2003.”
Ray Greaves, executive committee member at NECCR, said: “Barker and Stonehouse’s support has been invaluable to us over the years and we are very grateful to all of the staff who put such a lot of their own time into helping others.
“The money raised continues to help us fund vital research that will benefit families across the north of England.”
To donate, visit the Barker and Stonehouse Great North Run page on the Just Giving website: http://www.justgiving.com/barkerandstonehouse2013