The fated day of Friday the thirteenth – believed to be the unluckiest day — certainly lived up to its reputation for the Winspear family of Loftus in East Cleveland. On that December day in 2019 their five-year-old son Isaac was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer starting from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow.
At first he was admitted for anything from two days to two weeks but nowadays he travels the sixty-odd miles every other Thursday for treatment at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle. Many families who visit the RVI for treatment have been supported by the Children’s Cancer North charity which provides various activities, bravery rewards, games and end of treatment gifts.
To say thank you and raise awareness of the charity dad Shaun and a group of sixteen fundraisers are to cycle from Loftus to the RVI to raise funds:
“It may not be the longest ride but it highlights the amount of travelling that cancer families go through,” he explained. “We hope to help the charity to fund the activities they provide such as the play room, pre-Covid-19, Lego®, painting, games consoles, and the animation team which visits the ward.”
The children also get treats and rewards for being brave during some of the more unpleasant aspects of their treatment. Amongst the worst is having the port accessed. This is a small button under the skin near the collar bone where the meds are introduced. This can be extremely distressing as the child often needs to be restrained while the treatment can be administered. This can involve both parents, two nurses and a member of the play team.
It has a huge emotional impact on all the family, not just the patient, but mum and dad and Isaac’s ten-year -old sister Isabelle. Dad said; “She’s been very brave and has always supported her brother…but it has been very tough going for her sometimes. Cancer affects everybody in the family.”
The bike ride takes place on Saturday 5th June. It leaves Loftus Cricket and Athletic Club TS13 4LG at 07:00. The duration of the ride is expected to be some 7-8 hours.
You can support the effort via the JustGiving page. Search Shaun Winspear.
Find out more about their work at www.childrenscancernorth.org.uk.