Charity drive inspired by brave brain cancer sufferer Jack, 6

Six-year old Jack Morley
Six-year old Jack Morley

A BRAVE youngster who battled back from a deadly brain cancer is being used as the inspiration behind a charity set up to help others like him.

Jack Morley was just 14 months old when his concerned parents took him to the doctors with what they thought was a tummy bug.

But they were left stunned when experts at the University Hospital of Hartlepool diagnosed a brain tumour and whisked him away for life-saving surgery.

Without that emergency treatment, the family were later told Jack could have been dead within hours.

Lisa and husband Mark, a 42-year-old architect, had to take a full year off work and spent the next 12 months “practically living” at Newcastle General Hospital as the youngster underwent a succession of operations and treatments.

Jack, six, is now approaching the end of his five-year remission period and loves nothing better than playing with his pals at St John Vianney Primary School, in Hartlepool, and watching Fireman Sam on TV.

Lisa, from the Clavering area of Hartlepool, is delighted with her son’s progress after admitting there was a time when the family feared the worst, and is now turning her attentions to helping other parents who are going through the same ordeal.

She is raising money for and raising awareness of a research programme called Action Medical Research.

The project is raising funds to sponsor a doctor to look at brain tumours in small children.

Lisa, a special needs teaching assistant at the town’s Catcote Business and Enterprise College, and also mum to 12-year-old English Martyrs School student Imogen, said: “It’s just about putting something back.

“This research programme is focused on children under the age of three, and one in 10 children will die of a brain tumour.

“Hopefully over the three-year time span the doctor will come up with some answers to questions mothers like me want to know, like how the brain tumour got there.”

Lisa, who is hosting a fundraising night later this month under the name Jack’s Charity, recalled the heart-rending events of July 2006.

She said Jack had been ill for three or four days and he was sleeping more than normal, but with him being so young it was impossible to tell what was wrong.

She and Mark phoned an emergency doctor, but were told he was on call at the hospital.

Hospital medics admitted Jack for dehydration and he slipped into a coma.

The youngster was given a scan, which revealed a two-and-a-half inch brain tumour.

Lisa, 38, said: “It was horrendous, I was throwing up as I was in absolute shock.

“He would have died that night.

“When we were in the hospital we could hear an ambulance in the background, and it was actually for us.”

Lisa, Mark and Jack were rushed to Newcastle General Hospital, where the youngster was operated on the next day.

But doctors could not take the whole tumour away and had to leave five per cent as removing it could have left Jack with long-term disability.

Then followed three months of intensive chemotherapy, six weeks of radiotherapy and a further six months of consolidation therapy on Jack’s tiny body at Newcastle’s General, RVI and Freeman hospitals.

“It wiped him out”, said Lisa.

“He lost so much weight and was being fed through his stomach.”

After a year, Jack was allowed home.

Lisa said: “It was brilliant, but also frightening.

“We had to wait for scans every six months to see if the tumour had come back.”

Now Lisa says Jack, who has yearly check-ups, has got a “zest for life”, despite being left with a few learning problems and balance difficulties caused by treatment.