I'm stepping out for charity that helped us though Ollie's cancer nightmare
A mother whose young son was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia will trek the Grand Canyon to raise funds for charity.
Alison Bell was left devastated when she was told her son Ollie (6) had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) - a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells.
The Newtownabbey woman is sharing her son's story as part of Cancer Fund for Children's Christmas appeal.
"Just over a year ago, on October 18, 2016, I went to wake my son Ollie to get ready for school, just like any other day," she said.
"But Ollie complained that he couldn't put his foot on the floor to get up. He was obviously in a lot of pain and crying so I took him to Antrim hospital to get an X-ray.
"As I made the journey I was becoming increasingly worried as he had been at the doctors with a rash the week before and had been losing a lot of weight recently and looking pale."
Within hours her world would be turned upside down.
"When the doctors asked to speak to me alone, I knew it was serious," she said.
"I can remember the words so clearly. 'It's not good news - your son has leukaemia'. I had to compose myself before they brought Ollie into the room with me.
"From there we were transferred to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where we stayed for the next five weeks for intensive treatments.
"It's the stuff of nightmares but throughout his treatment Ollie just got on with it and fought."
While Ollie was in hospital he was referred to Cancer Fund for Children for support and Alison said it made a huge difference. She is now preparing to trek the Grand Canyon in 2018 to help the charity.
"I honestly don't know where I would be today with the support of Cancer Fund for Children," she added.
"That is one of the reasons why I'm taking part in a trek - to raise funds for a charity that has helped us on our journey and has a special place in my heart."
After a year of treatment Ollie is doing well and has now started a phase of less intensive treatment and recently returned to school.
Alison added: "It was a very emotional day - to see how far he has come. He still has two and half years of treatment left as well as daily chemo and we know that the cancer journey will most likely have long lasting effects even after he finishes treatment.
"Missing a year of school has left him behind academically and the chemotherapy drugs could likely have side-effects, but with Cancer Fund for Children's help we will address these issues and get through them together."
To find out more visit cancerfund forchidlren.com