A BRAVE eight-year-old girl fighting a rare form of child cancer inspired dozens of runners at Hartlepool’s Race for Life.
Around 40 staff, pupils and parents of Brougham Primary School, in Hartlepool, ran for Rebecca Henderson who attended yesterday’s 1,500-runner event at Seaton Carew in her wheelchair.
Fewer than 60 children a year are diagnosed in the UK with the type of cancer that Rebecca is battling.
The disease attacks the soft tissue in the body and began in Rebecca’s leg before spreading to other parts of her body.
She has already undergone two operations, including one to remove the muscle containing the tumour, and is on a 19-month course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Supporters from Brougham Primary School, where Rebecca’s mum Tracy Henderson teaches, raised around £3,500 by taking part in the fun run.
Tracy, 39, said she and the family were devastated when Rebecca was diagnosed.
She said: “Initially we thought it was a muscle tear and to be told it was cancer, it is the worst thing you can ever hear that your child has got.”
Rebecca needs daily injections for blood clots and 15 more months of chemo and radiotherapy.
But after four months, the signs so far are positive.
Tracy added: “She has been an absolute superstar through the treatment and never moaned once.
“We are looking really positive for the future. The chemo has worked so quickly. In four months it has got rid of the tumours in her lymph nodes so it is a really positive sign.”
Tracy and Rebecca helped hand out medals and bottles of water to weary runners crossing the finishing line.
Tracy, who lives in Billingham, said of the school’s support: “I’ve never been so proud to say I work at Brougham Primary. Every member of staff turned out for Rebecca, they’ve just been fantastic.”
Headteacher Julie Thomas said: “It has been very emotional but we feel we are turning a negative into a positive.”
Seaton Carew’s promenade was turned into a sea of pink for the event, which is set to raise at least £78,000 for Cancer research UK.
Participants ranged in age from 14 months to 82 years old and all were united in their common goal to fight cancer.
The majority of runners had lost loved ones to the cruel disease and proudly wore pictures of them on their pink vests.
Hartlepool mum Clair Sudron was the event’s guest of honour.
Clair, 34, spoke to the crowd from a stage about how she fought back from cancer.
She gave birth to gorgeous twin girls, Scarlett and Bella, now two years old, despite being told she may never be able to have children because of her cancer treatment.
Despite the showers and grey skies, Cancer Research UK officials could not have been happier with the response this year.
Events manager Anna Thompson said: “We got just short of 1,500 runners and our sponsorship target is £78,082.
“It makes a massive difference when this sort of money comes in.
“The most important thing is the ladies making sure they get their money in but it is phenomenal that this amount of money has been raised.
“There are women who come back and run this race year after year and I think they are unbelievable.
“Just as important are the people who are doing this for the first time this year, and the volunteers who help us pull this all together.”