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Four year old with a rare form of cancer is Rainbow Trust’s face of the 2024 Great North Run



A four year old girl who has Burkitt Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive cancer, is fronting an appeal from Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, calling on people to take part in the AJ Bell Great North Run from Newcastle to South Sheilds on Sunday 8 September.


Northumberland based Mya Ela and her mum Natalie are appealing to people to sign up to the half marathon and join #TeamMyaEla to help raise funds for families like theirs who are supported by Rainbow Trust.


The family are encouraging runners who were unsuccessful in the ballot to sign up for one of 70 places up for grabs on #TeamMyaEla. Participants need to raise £300 and pay a £20 registration fee and will be supported on the day with cheering squads at the event as well as enjoy a post race reception and massage.


The 13.1-mile race spanning Newcastle, South Shields and the North Sea coast, attracts approximately 57,000 runners each year including celebrities, wheelchair-racers and fun-runners and is filmed live on the BBC.   


The money raised from #TeamMyaEla will help families who are supported by Rainbow Trust. The charity enables families who have a child with a life threatening illness to make the most of their time together by pairing each family with an expert Family Support Worker who helps them at home, in hospital and in the community, for as long as it is needed. 


Mya Ela’s mum Natalie said, “we would really encourage people to sign up to Team Mya Ela. Rainbow Trust truly understands what we have been through and what we continue to go through. We have been supported by Jamie our family support worker since April last year and she has been my absolute rock to be honest. I would feel so lost without her. She has made such a big difference to our lives.”


Mya Ela suffered with health problems from a when she was a small baby and despite many trips to the doctor’s she was three years old before she was taken to Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where a cancerous mass was found and she was given the diagnosis of Burkitt Lymphoma.


Mum Natalie said, “They told me the mass was shutting her body down. If I had left her for one more night in her condition, she wouldn’t have woken up.’


Mya Ela was sent for biopsies, scans and tests and then put into an induced coma in intensive care, put on a ventilator and a dialysis machine for 12 days. She also started emergency chemotherapy because the mass was so large. In May 2023 Mya Ela had emergency surgery to have stoma fitted as she had developed colitis and she remained in hospital for four months receiving further chemotherapy, leaving her bedbound as the treatment made her so poorly.


Natalie struggled with the isolation and said, “‘I felt like my heart had been ripped out. It was my daughter, I’m meant to be her protector, and make sure she’s safe and she’s well. I’ve pushed and pushed and pushed with the doctors and not been listened to, and it’s come down to this. It was awful.’


The family were introduced to Jaimie their Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker in April 2023. Initially she spent time with Mya Ela in hospital giving Natalie a much needed break but since July last year Mya Ela has been home and Jaimie provides respite care for Natalie by taking her out as well as bringing food and essential items the family need. She also supports her with her school work.


As each month passes Mya Ela is doing better and better. Her speech is improving and she recently learned to count to 30. She has also made the brave decision to take part in the Junior and Mini Great North Run which takes place on Saturday 7 September where entrants aged from 3 to 9 years old run a 1.2km course.


Natalie said, “Mya Ela and I would love as many people as possible to sign up and run on behalf of Rainbow Trust. Having someone like Jaimie from Rainbow Trust for any family who need it is so important. There’s nothing to be scared about. It’s building up the relationship to then be able to let go of the leash a bit and say – the reins are going off. They’re going to be okay and I’m going to be okay too.”


Oonagh Goodman, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rainbow Trust, said: “The Great North Run is one of Rainbow Trust’s biggest events of the year and we are extremely grateful to Mya Ela and her mum Natalie for backing our appeal calling for people to sign up for it. Money raised from the event will enable families with a seriously ill child to make the most of the precious time they have together.” 

 

Rainbow Trust has nine care teams of Family Support Workers across England, including Newcastle and the north east, providing emotional and practical support to families at home, in hospital and in the community.


For more information or to sign up to The Great North Run visit Great North Run 2024 | Rainbow Trust Children's Charity or contact the events team at  events@rainbowtrust.org.uk or 01372 220031. 

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