The family of an 11-year-old Coleraine schoolboy who overcame two brain tumours has issued a timely appeal for people to be Headsmart.
As term began this week after the summer break, Ewan MacKerracher donned uniform to start out at Dalriada Grammar School.
Ewan was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010 at the age of five.
He underwent 12-hour surgery which severely damaged his neck and jaw muscles but after fighting his way back to recovery the tumour recurred in 2012. A further 10-hour operation followed.
His family were told that the surgery was a success and after a scan late last year he has been given the all clear. Overjoyed at Ewan’s progress his mum, Kerrie said: “We are immensely proud of Ewan for all the hard work he put in to gain his place at Dalriada.
“He has overcome so much after brain tumours aged five and seven, and he was determined that the tumours were not going to stop him from getting into a grammar school.
“When we watched him in hospital we would not have dared to dream that he would now be starting secondary school.”
The family is supporting the campaign by The Brain Tumour Charity, which will see the distribution of over 35,000 wallet-sized HeadSmart symptoms cards to GP surgeries.
“The HeadSmart campaign is so vitally important in raising awareness with GPs and parents on the symptoms of brain tumours in young children through to young adults.
Ewan’s symptoms, like many others, could have been picked up far quicker had we, or the doctors, been aware of them.” Since launching 2011, the campaign has reduced the time it takes on average to diagnose a childhood brain tumour in the UK from more than 13 weeks to less than seven.
The aim is to reduce the diagnosis time to four weeks in line with NHS cancer targets.
Richard Devlin, operations manager for The Brain Tumour Charity in Northern Ireland, said: “We are so pleased for Ewan, he is a real inspiration and we wish him the best of luck at his new school.”
Possible symptoms of a brain tumour include: persistent/recurrent headaches, vomiting, balance and co-ordination problems, abnormal eye movements, blurred or double vision and behaviour change.