A 12-year-old boy who has battled cancer for a decade will mark a major milestone next week – starting high school.
Brandon Ballance, from Amble, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain-stem tumour when he was just two.
The brave lad, named The Champ by his loved ones, has suffered a tough ordeal, including rigorous chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.
But on Monday, the plucky youngster, who has battled valiantly against what life has thrown at him, will start a significant chapter in his life.
Brandon, along with the other Year 8 students at James Calvert Spence College’s (JCSC) South Avenue middle school site, will start at the high school on Acklington Road, as part of the transition process for pupils at JCSC. And his mother, Sarah Nicholson, 37, is delighted that her son will be joining his peers.
She said: “It will be a massive change for him, but it is a big and important milestone. I am so proud of how far he has come.
“During his 10-year battle, he has missed a lot of school, but to see him going to high school is absolutely amazing and we are over the moon.”
A recent scan in December showed that the youngster’s tumour is stable. And while he still endures some mobility issues, mother Sarah said: “He has started to do a lot more things and he is doing really well.”
The family is gearing up to give Easter treats to other youngsters who are suffering from cancer.
For the third year running, the family will be handing out hampers, which will include Easter eggs, at Newcastle RVI’s Ward 14 Paediatric Oncology Day Unit.
They will also be giving some hampers to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.
Sarah, who also has daughter Sienna, eight, said: “The day unit and the Rainbow Trust have played a big part in our lives, so we like to give something back. It may just be an Easter egg, but it makes a difference to the children.
“Brandon likes getting involved in this sort of thing because he knows what the children are going through.”
The community has donated to the hampers and Sarah is grateful for the support.