BRAVE youngsters will be the stars of this weekend’s Race for Life.
Jodie Rothwell and her son Lucas Thorpe will be guests of honour at the 5k event at Pennington Flash.
And fellow cancer survivor Georgia Kelly will be joining the Cancer Slam dance on stage.
This year’s Race for Life in Leigh has smashed its participation target with 1,500 women signed up for the event compared to 1,300 last year.
Lucas, from Atherton, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was just 11 months old.
Doctors found a mass on his bladder and three days later, Lucas’s kidneys failed and he had to be kept in the high dependency unit until he was stable enough to undergo surgery.
The tumour was removed from his bladder but it had already spread to his urethra and prostate. A biopsy revealed Lucas had rhabdomyosarcoma — only the second time doctors had ever seen the rare form of cancer in a baby.
He was initially treated with chemotherapy but he also needed specialist radiotherapy called ‘proton beam therapy’. His organs were too immature to cope with standard radiotherapy so he was referred to the US for further treatment.
The family travelled to Jacksonville in December, 2011, for a 10-week course of proton therapy but they flew out immediately after Lucas’s chemotherapy and his compromised immune system led to him developing pneumonia and septicaemia just two days after arriving.
Lucas fought for his life in the intensive care unit. At one point, his parents Jodie and Dale were told to he was not expected to last the night. Against the odds, Lucas did — despite nearly losing his right arm and leg.
He was placed in a hyperbaric chamber and leeches were used to oxygenate his blood.
The septicaemia caused Lucas to lose half of his right foot and the tips of his toes, as well as the tips of his fingers.
After returning to the UK, he underwent further chemotherapy treatment, still has regular check-ups and has learned to adapt to his missing fingertips.
He recently joined the pre-school at St George’s Central Primary School in Tyldesley and his mum is now studying to become a nurse. She said: “I’m so grateful for the research that helped Lucas and now I want to help others by supporting Cancer Research UK’s work.”
Georgia proved a great hit at Leigh’s Race for Life last June when she was VIP guest.
The seven-year-old from Daisy Hill will be taking part in Race for Life once again with “Team Georgia” including mum Karen. Georgia, who is a pupil at St James Primary School in Daisy Hill, was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.
Doctors were initially unsure as to whether the lump on her skull was Ewings Sarcoma or neuroblastoma.
She underwent surgery to remove the tumour and part of her skull followed by a further operation to insert a plate in her skull.
Georgia also had a full body scan that revealed a second calcified tumour in her abdomen.
Within a few weeks of her surgery, more lumps appeared on her skull.
Test revealed Georgia had neuroblastoma. She began chemotherapy and was enrolled in a clinical trial.
Georgia’s chemotherapy finished in March, 2012. Scans showed she was clear of cancer, but her bone marrow results were not completely clear, so she had two extra cycles of another three chemotherapy drugs.
She also underwent a stem cell harvest followed by surgery to remove the tumour and has since had 14 doses of radiotherapy and 20 weeks of immunotherapy treatment and still needs regular check-ups.
To enter Race for Life’s 5k, 10k or Pretty Muddy events in the North West visit raceforlife.org or call 0845 600 6050.
Bolton’s Race for Life will be held at Leverhulme Park on Sunday, July 6.