Brave boy, 2, successfully battles brain tumour – but doctors don't know if he'll ever walk on his own



15:11 GMT, 15 May 2012

A brave two-year-old boy is winning his battle against a brain tumour – but doctors say there will always be a chance that the cancer will return.

Joseph Middlemass was diagnosed in May last year after his parents noticed he had stopped crawling and later had a seizure.

Doctors found the nursery pupil from Newcastle had a pea-sized brain tumour, which is in an inoperable position at the top of his brain stem.

Joseph Middlemass and Gemma

Joseph Middlemass

Staying positive: Chemotherapy has shrunk the tumour in Joseph's brain. His mother, Gemma, said he was coping well

He is now part of part of a clinical trial and is undergoing 18 months of chemotherapy at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, which will finish in December this year.

Doctors don't yet know if Joseph will ever walk unaided or fully develop his speech, but his mum Gemma, a civil servant, said her son's tumour was shrinking.

Gemma, 30, said: 'When we were told Joseph had a brain tumour I felt sick as you don't know what to do.

'It is heartbreaking as it's the last situation you ever imagine your child will end up in. You think it's something that happens to someone else and it's gut-wrenching. But kids seem to cope with things so well and Joseph is.

'He is understandably at a lower level than kids his age, but he enjoys going to nursery and loves watching the other children play. We just hope that one day it will be Joseph who is running riot.'

Joseph Middlemass during his treatment, pictured with his mother Gemma

Joseph Middlemass during his treatment, pictured with his mother Gemma

Joseph was at the crawling stage in his development when Gemma and her husband, Steven, 39, also a civil servant, started to worry that something could be wrong with their son.

He stopped trying to crawl and soon after was admitted to hospital after suffering a seizure. Doctors at first feared that Joseph, who has a seven-month-old sister, Hannah, may have had muscular dystrophy but an MRI scan revealed he had a mass on his brain.

A subsequent biopsy identified the tumour was a low grade glioma, which is slow growing and affects up to 150 children each year.

Mum-of-two Gemma said: 'Joseph was very poorly and he slept quite a bit, but he's getting better.

'We don't know if he will be able to walk but we do hope this will happen, although we can't guarantee anything. I just worry about Joseph's future every day as it's so uncertain.'

Joseph, who is also Type 1 diabetic, is regularly monitored by consultants and his tumour is expected to shrink completely, however his parents have been warned there is a chance that it could return.