A mother who lost her teenage son to cancer has completed a gruelling fund-raising challenge in his memory, to help with research into improved treatments for children.
Brave Kieran Wood, 17, from Longhoughton, died in February 2016 after a courageous year-long fight against acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
As an 11-year-old, he had declared that he wanted to find a cure for cancer, with dreams of becoming a geneticist.
In a tragic twist of fate, he was diagnosed with the disease a few years later, which eventually robbed him of his life.
Now, his mother Nikki – who has struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – has tackled the Cyprus Summer Challenge in honour of her beloved only child. The aim was to run, walk, swim and cycle the coast of Cyprus – a total of 648km – over a month.
Nikki, who now lives in Cyprus, completed the feat in aid of the Future Fund, which supports children with cancer and works to develop new and less toxic therapies.
She was determined to support the cause, so that, in the future, other children might not have to suffer gruelling treatment, like Kieran did.
She said: “The Fund is so important to find a better, kinder way to treat childhood cancers.
“Kieran truly believed that there was a better way and he wanted to become a geneticist.
“If we had the treatments that Kieran believed we could achieve in having – kinder therapies that help your body fight this terrible disease, instead of chemotherapy, radiation and steroids – other children would be spared so much.
“I hope that the Future Fund will realise the dream of discovering kinder, better treatments and other children will not have to suffer like Kieran did.”
Nikki, 41, admits she didn’t always feel like completing the challenge, but she was inspired by Kieran.
She said: “There were those days that were hard to push myself, but I thought of Kieran and how easy my challenge was compared to what he went through.
“I would hear Kieran shouting in my ear, saying ‘come on, the children need this, they will find better treatment’.
“Even though it is too late for my trooper, he would want me to do what I could to save others suffering the terrible side effects of current cancer treatment.”
Nikki has raised more than £1,000 – smashing her £500 target – and has thanked everyone for their support, including from Northumberland. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adragonsquest
She said: “It is so nice to realise that Kieran has not been forgotten and the fact that people care enough about his story to help me try for a better future for others means the world to me and his dad Stephen.”