Sleaford mum taking 50,000 steps for cancer charity as thank you for supporting young son

A Sleaford mum hopes to complete the final day of her challenge today (Wednesday) having pledged to walk 500,000 steps throughout March to raise vital funds for children and young people with cancer, while her own son battles the disease.

Chantelle O’Connor has undertaken the challenge while her seven-year-old son James has battled with an aggressive and rare brain tumour, undergoing treatment for the last five years at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham for the anaplastic ependymoma.

The mum is estimated to have walked around 236 miles throughout March – the distance of nine marathons – to raise money for CLIC Sargent: young lives vs cancer, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.

Chantelle, 32, said: “James was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour at the age of two. For five years he has fought with everything he has – he has faced brain surgeries, intensive chemotherapy and proton radiation to his brain and spine. As well as battling cancer, James has fought against sepsis and meningitis numerous times. The treatment has caused vision loss, hearing loss, mobility issues, left side facial palsy, right side body weakness, learning disabilities, cognitive development disabilities, and memory loss.

Chantelle and James O'Connor. EMN-210329-173058001

“He’s a true, real-life hero. In January, we were told James had reoccurred with his sixth brain tumour and he underwent more surgery last month. He’s currently recovering well and is at home.”

Chantelle explained: “CLIC Sargent have been a huge part of our journey and so I wanted to give something back by taking part in this challenge. We can’t really help change the situation for James, but what we can do is help give back to CLIC Sargent so the charity can help other families facing cancer.

“For the first year and a half of James’ treatment, the CLIC Sargent Home from Home accommodation quite literally became just that. While James received chemotherapy, myself, James’ dad and twin brother lived in the CLIC home opposite the hospital for more than six months. Without this, and all the other support CLIC Sargent has provided over the years, we would have been lost.”

William Hampshire, CLIC Sargent’s events marketing manager, said: “We are pleased to hear we have been able to provide some support for James and his family throughout his cancer journey and are so grateful for Chantelle’s incredible dedication and commitment to raise vital funds for CLIC Sargent.

James undergoing treatment. EMN-210329-173108001

“When cancer strikes young lives we fight tirelessly to limit the damage it causes beyond their health. We rely entirely on donations to fund our work and so we can’t thank Chantelle, and everyone who has supported her, enough for this fantastic effort.

“Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our income so fundraising challenges such as these are absolutely crucial in helping us recover and continue our work to support children and young people like James who are facing cancer.”

Chantelle has so far raised more than £1,000.

l To support Chantelle, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Chantelle-O-Connor4

After one of James' recent operations. EMN-210329-173118001