Grief-stricken Aylesbury mum's 10-mile trek for Brain Tumour Research in memory of son
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A grief-stricken Aylesbury mother will walk 10 miles on what would have been her son’s 10th birthday to deliver his favourite treats to hospital staff who helped care for him.
Jess Mitchell’s son, Dylan, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in May 2014 at the age of two.
He battled his medulloblastoma heroically but died in his mother’s arms in December 2020, three weeks before his ninth birthday.
In recognition of Dylan’s birthday last year, Jess raised the £2,740 needed to sponsor a day of research at a Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence and is planning to do the same to mark all of his lost birthdays.
Founded by Padbury woman Sue Farrington Smith and now headquartered in Milton Keynes, Brain Tumour Research is a national charity fundraising to create a network of seven sustainable Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence across the UK
On Saturday, which would have been Dylan's 10th birthday, Jess will embark on a sponsored 10-mile return trip from her home in Aston Clinton to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, walking a mile for each of his 10 years.
There, she will deliver a tray of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Dylan’s favourite treat, to staff on the children’s ward which cared for him.
Meanwhile a friend will be making the same delivery to staff on Kamran's Ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, where Dylan underwent a craniotomy in May 2014.
Jess said: “My long-term goal is to sponsor every birthday that Dylan doesn’t get to celebrate to help ensure that other children can celebrate more birthdays than him.”
She added: “He’ll be coming on Saturday too - I’ve got a Huggable Hero teddy that has Dylan’s photo front and back and comes on every walk with us so he will be there.
“I’ll be a wreck because it’s the first time I’ll have been back to the hospital since leaving in an ambulance with Dylan.
"I’ve passed it, but not once set foot on the grounds and, of course, with it being his birthday, I’ll be thinking about all the things we should have been doing.
"I know for a fact that we’d have been at the local soft play having fun with his friends.”
Jess, aged 43, will also be an early participant in the 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge in aid of Brain Tumour Research, with friends and family planning a variety of running, climbing and abstinence challenges to help her achieve her fundraising target.
Dylan had been suffering from what appeared to be a sore neck, as well as sickness and a lack of appetite, and had been back and forth to the doctors for two weeks before finally being referred to A&E and given an MRI scan under sedation in May 2014.
He underwent a craniotomy and chemotherapy but by January 2015 was showing signs of relapse and was authorised to begin radiotherapy before embarking on more chemo.
By May 2016 he showed no evidence of disease (NED) and Jess was learning to manage the long-term effects of his disease and treatment, which included double incontinence and learning difficulties.
The youngster relapsed once more in July 2018 and was offered palliative chemo but Jess researched private alternatives and set up a GoFundMe page to enable him to have access to antiangiogenic therapy, which she was later able to get the NHS to provide.
Dylan’s treatment was going well and in September 2020 Jess received the news his tumours had shrunk, but within days he was in a critical condition in hospital suffering from sepsis, hydrocephalous, pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism.
Ultimately, it was decided that nothing could be done to save him and he died in Jess’s arms on December 13 2020.
Jess, who also has sons Jake, 12, and Elliot, seven, said: “Dylan’s a five-year survival statistic.
"He’s a success story according to the statistics. Isn’t that crazy?”
Charity spokesman Charlie Allsebrook said: “Dylan’s story is a stark reminder that brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone of any age at any time.
!They kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
"We appreciate Jess’s support as we remain focused on changing this situation through our continued commitment to fund vital research.”
To support Jess, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/team-dylan10