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Christopher's astrocytoma brain tumour story

Baby Christopher

Christopher was born on the 19 October 1982 – five weeks early. Thankfully, Christopher was a very resilient baby, and he grew into a bright and bubbly boy who loved life. Like every energetic, fun-loving five year-old, he enjoyed playing on his bike, drawing and animals – especially owls. He was also a very caring boy ⁠— he adored his little sister Louise and his little brother, Richard, who was only 12 months old when Christopher became ill.


He grew into a bright and bubbly boy

The early signs

Looking back there were signs that Christopher was ill but at the time I just didn’t make the connection. He’d started to trip over more often, he’d gradually become sleepier than before, and he didn’t want to play tiring games, and his head tilted ever so slightly. But each came on slowly, seemingly unrelated to the other, so we just didn’t pick up on them. The day we learnt that something was seriously wrong with Christopher is a day that I’ll never forget. It was the day the world changed forever, for me and for my family. But it was a day that started like any other.

Christopher riding bike

The diagnosis

Christopher had gone to school as usual but in the middle of the day, school phoned to tell me that he’d fallen asleep on the floor, and they couldn’t wake him. I rushed to collect Christopher and made an emergency appointment to see our doctor. But the GP was so concerned, he put us in an ambulance and sped us to hospital for further tests. After some time waiting in a hospital cubicle, a doctor appeared around the curtain and said, “You know what the problem is, don’t you?” I still had absolutely no idea. “Your son has a brain tumour.” Christopher was diagnosed with a stage three astrocytoma – an inoperable brain tumour.

Your son has a brain tumour.

Living in a daze

Hearing those words was like being hit by a car without actually feeling it hit you. The numbness and intense pain I felt took my breath away. I was sat there, hearing what the doctors were telling me, but it felt like I was looking in on somebody else’s conversation – a true out of body experience. Over the following weeks and months, I was living in a daze of sadness, of fear, of worry, of feeling how unfair this was for Christopher. Always holding onto the hope the consultants had got it wrong; maybe there was something that they could do for Christopher. The reality was, there was nothing we could do to help him recover. The type of tumour Christopher had meant it had spread throughout his brain and couldn’t be operated on without causing his death or, at the very least, removing all functionality. This wasn’t an option we wanted to take. So, we focused on what we could do – we helped Christopher improve what time he had left with us, in the best way we could. This included a lot of medical interventions – starting with an operation inserting a “shunt” to drain fluid from his brain, reducing the swelling. Repeated rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed, as his wonderful medical team tried to reduce the growth of the tumour. Anything to give Christopher a better quality of life, for just that little bit longer.

Christopher holidng bike

Saying goodbye

It was almost 12 months to the day after discovering his tumour that Christopher died. He’d been receiving treatment when we accepted that we’d reached the point where there was nothing more we could do for him. That no further hospital appointments would help. So, we brought my beautiful boy home. Over the following few weeks, we cared for him as best we could, but he slowly deteriorated until eventually, very peacefully, he passed away with his family around him. I know it sounds like a strange thing to say, but it was a relief. Watching your child slowly disappear before your eyes is utterly heart-breaking. Christopher’s suffering was over. It was at least six months before the reality of what happened hit me. I thought I was OK, but I wasn’t. To be honest, I didn’t really cope with it at all well, even though others around me probably thought I did. I hid it away.


We brought my beautiful boy home.

Moving forwards

Following Christopher’s death, both his father, Mick, and I remarried. With my new husband, Denis, and our children, I moved back to the Midlands to be closer to my sister, Sharon, and the rest of my family. I also decided it was also time for a change of career. Before Christopher’s death, I’d been working in the legal profession, but it was time to do something totally different. So, I enrolled on a beauty therapy course. After college, I joined a small beauty business, demonstrating their products. I loved it! I put my heart and soul into it and worked my way up to become Managing Director until 2013, when I took the tough decision to retire, and it been the best thing I ever did. Retiring made me realise that working had become my coping mechanism. I’d put everything into my work but realised it came at a price – less time with my family. So, I now spend as much time as I can with them. Which means lots of time with Sharon.

I now spend as much time as I can with them.

Epic fundraising milestone

Sharon and I have been fundraising together since 2015. Although we’re not cyclists – in fact, when we agreed to do our first charity cycle ride, we didn’t even have bikes. Since then, we’ve ridden 100s of miles and raised over £22,000 for Children with Cancer UK. While Sharon and I are both young at heart, we’re now in our mid-60s and aches and pains are catching up with us. So, we’ve decided to do one last challenge – we’re riding 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats over 21 days this May. And for an epic challenge, we’ve set an epic fundraising target, we want to match what we’ve raised so far – £22,000.

Dawn, Christopher’s mum, February 2023

dawn sharon lejog sisters

They did it!

The ‘LEJoGsisters’ successfully completed their 1,000 mile cycle from Land’s End to John O’groats raising over an incredible £26,000. Children with Cancer UK cannot thank Dawn and Sharon enough for their commitment, determination and support of families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis. The funds they have raised in memory of Christopher will help our vision of a world where every child survives cancer. 

Children with Cancer UK, July 2023

Dawn and Sharon Completed Fundraiser

How you can help

If you’ve been touched by Christopher’s journey, help us invest in the high quality research that really matters which would otherwise go unfunded.

This helps to support children with cancer so they can be with their families for longer.

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Have you or a family member been affected by childhood cancer?

Many of our supporters have been affected by childhood cancer – either through family, friends or their own personal experience. These patient stories can help inspire others to get involved with us, or can support our media work.

If you have a story that you would like to tell, please contact us by email.


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