Energetic’ boy’s leg pains while on family holiday turned out to be leukaemia

The parents of a four-year-old boy who complained about pain in his legs had their worst fears confirmed when they were told he had leukaemia.

James Walker-Ford had been a “happy and energetic boy” whose smile would “light up a room”.

But on his fourth birthday he started complaining about a pain in his legs during a family getaway.

His parents initially thought it was a pulled muscle but his condition then got worse as he started falling asleep while at school and struggled to walk, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Despite his parents taking James to numerous doctors and health services for almost a month, none were able to piece his symptoms together.

A few weeks down the line, James was taken to Alder Hey, where a test confirmed he had leukaemia.

Mark, from Runcorn, told the Echo: “For almost a month we saw a number of doctors and nurses at our local practice, out of hours service, walk in, and hospital.

“But none of them put the symptoms together and didn’t think it could be anything sinister.

“After weeks of worry, we ended up at Alder Hey.

“A quick blood test and our worst fears were confirmed.”

James was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April 2018 and chemotherapy began immediately.

Six weeks on, doctors gave the good news the cancer had “all but gone” and James was in remission.

Three years of treatment followed, but this June will mark a special date in James’s story, inspiring Mark to embark on an epic challenge to complete seven marathons in seven days around Runcorn in aid of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, starting on May 23.

He will be joined by his friend Kevin Thorne, and residents are invited to join him along the way.

The “7in7forAlderHey” follows numerous other fundraisers completed by Mark, his wife Vicky and Kevin.

At time of writing, their efforts had raised nearly £14,000.

Mark, who runs Liverpool-based Red Website Design, also created a website for 7in7forAlderHey to tell his family’s story.

Mark said: “There were tough times along the way, with countless hospital visits and dozens of operations, but after three years of treatment he looks and behaves like a normal seven-year-old boy.

“He is due to ‘ring the bell’ in June.

“I’ve taken part in a few fundraising events since James was diagnosed, but at the end of each one I’ve felt it wasn’t enough and that the next one needed to be bigger.

“The plan was to go for the Ironman Triathlon, but Covid-19 made that impossible, so I needed something that could be done even if there were restrictions in place..

“Having followed the fundraising legend and ex footy pro Francis Benali’s IronFran attempt of seven triathlons in seven days, it felt like the obvious step up from the previous fundraising events.

“So, that’s why I’m attempting seven marathons in seven days, starting on May 23.

“Each marathon will be around Runcorn, and people are invited to join me for some or all of each run.”

Describing the motivation to help Alder Hey on his justgiving page, Mark said: “The support we have received from everyone at Alder Hey has been absolutely first class.

“They are fixing our boy, so we are forever in their debt.”