Posted on Friday 16 August 2019

in News

Mum takes on Great North Run challenge after teenage son’s shocking cancer diagnosis

A mum whose son was diagnosed with cancer aged just 13 is taking on the Great North Run next month after being inspired to raise money for more children and families facing cancer.

Mum Anna with her son Mikey.

Anna Palmer, 34, from Gateshead, will be putting her best foot forward on Sunday 8th September as she takes on a 13.1 mile challenge to raise vital funds for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.

Anna signed up for the race with her sister Laura, her sister-in-law Suzie and best friend Emma to give something back to the charity who they say helped to guide them through the “nightmare” after her son Mikey was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Anna said: “If these kids go through what they are going through then we can run, walk and crawl the Great North Run for them. The 13.1 miles is for Mikey and for all the families who are going through the nightmare now.

Anna, who had to give up her job in Tesco to be there for her son following his shock diagnosis, said: “Mikey’s illness started off on New Year’s Eve in 2016. We just thought he was ill and had picked up some sort of bug and so we weren’t too concerned. You’re not thinking when your bairn is young that he has cancer.”

However as time went on, Mikey still wasn’t drinking and eating and so Anna and her partner Michael, took Mikey to hospital.

”We went to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead in the January, and they said he was dehydrated and took his bloods. It came back something was wrong with his bone marrow but we didn’t know what it was at time.

“We were then sent across to Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle a day later and they took some more bloods. The doctors were just thinking it was a viral infection – and you just believe them as there is no reason not to.

“Then, at the end of February, Mikey said he felt really tired and sick, and he wasn’t well again.”

Anna took Mikey back to hospital where doctors did a test for his bone marrow and did an ultrasound. It was that afternoon the family were told Mikey has leukaemia.

“I just felt absolutely numb. My whole world imploded. The whole of the family was thrown on to a rollercoaster we couldn’t get off. We just went into survival mode.”

Over the past two years, Mikey has had 623 doses of chemotherapy, 17 trips to theatre and 10 blood and platelet transfusions, and has another year to go for treatment.

“The chemotherapy really took it out of Mikey. We were thinking are we going to lose him? He was on morphine and so many drugs and you are just sitting there watching him not on this planet.

“It’s horrendous as a parent – you feel broken inside because there is nothing you can do. You can’t get angry at anyone because it is nobody’s fault. You are just breaking on the inside and are just so angry, questioning why your son has to go through this.”

I just felt absolutely numb. My whole world imploded. The whole of the family was thrown on to a rollercoaster we couldn’t get off. We just went into survival mode.” 

The Great North Run falls this September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and CLIC Sargent is raising awareness of the hidden costs of cancer for families, like those the Palmer family faced. Anna and her partner made the decision to move the family home closer to the hospital so they would not have to continue a two-hour journey with traffic they were making to get to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

“Cancer tries its best to rip you apart from the inside out. It takes your most precious thing as a parent and tries to take it away. Money gets tighter as you go backwards and forwards, having to pay for petrol and parking, and food while Mikey was on chemotherapy.

“It nearly has broken us but we are getting there. Mikey is now on the maintenance stage which he will finish in August 2020.”

Throughout the Palmer family’s gruelling experience, they have been supported by a CLIC Sargent social worker who provides practical, emotional and financial support.

“After everything we have been through as a family CLIC Sargent have been there to help and guide us through this nightmare we have been thrown into. They have been an ear to listen to, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to guide us.

“Maureen, our social worker from CLIC Sargent, has been a god send. She gave us all the information we needed and gave it us to go through at our own pace and just said she would help guide us through it. She really is our guardian angel. Everything would have fallen apart without CLIC Sargent. They helped us to fill out our DLA form and gave us a grant when Mikey first went into hospital. It’s the little things that pick you back up and got us saying bring it on, we will fight this.”

Jade Clarke, CLIC Sargent’s Major Runs Project Manager, said: “We are so grateful to Anna and Mikey’s team for their incredible efforts. Anna has taken the most difficult experience and is turning it into doing something positive. We are going to be with her every step of the way for the run. Her efforts mean CLIC Sargent will be able to be there for more children and young people with cancer.”

To sponsor Anna’s challenge, visit:

Notes to editors

For more information about CLIC Sargent please contact Jessica Rees at or call 0117 311 2659.

About cancer in children and young people

Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About CLIC Sargent

When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.


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