'˜We are so thankful' - Family's epic trek following teen's health battle
A dad and his two sons will tackle a gruelling charity challenge to honour a cause close to their hearts.
Martin, Jake and Harry Moorman, who live in Greetland, will walk ‘The Camino’ - a 490-mile route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago in Spain - to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Research and Support across Yorkshire charity.
It’s a personal challenge for the trio after Jake, 18, underwent two major life-saving operations to treat a brain haemorrhage.
His story began in February 2014, when he began to be sick on a family holiday to Lanzarote.
Putting it down to food, the family came home and life continued as normal until Easter came around, when Jake began to suffer sever bouts of vomiting and debilitating headaches.
As a keen skateboarder, he also noticed there was something wrong with his balance.
After trips to the GP where tests could not reveal what was wrong, Jake, who is currently on a gap year before going to university, was sent for an MRI scan.
He said: “I could see them pointing at something on the screen, then the doctor came and said they had found a 2cm brain haemorrhage.
“They had seen it, but didn’t know where it had come from. At first they didn’t know what it was.”
Life became a whirlwind of trips to and from Leeds General Infirmary as Jake, who was in the midst of his GCSE exams, continued to suffer smaller bleeds.
His health began to seriously deteriorate and his first operation was scheduled for the beginning of May.
“I was feeling horrible,” Jake said. “At that point, anything was going to be better than that.”
The family had been told there could be a chance Jake could die without the surgery, but the operation also carried a multitude of risks, including paralysis.
Jake underwent the seven-hour operation and because of falling ill had missed most of his GCSEs, but was able to move into the sixth form at North Halifax Grammar School and achieved two As and two Bs in his AS Levels.
He began to recover and Jake said he felt hopeful that his ordeal was over. But it was while he was on holiday in Cromer, Norfolk, in summer 2015 that he received another blow.
Jake said: “I had a scan the week before we went and got the results there. They rang and said ‘the bad news is that it’s still there, but we think we have an idea of what is causing it’.”
The teen was told he had a developmental venous anomaly, but he wanted to wait and for an operation until he could get through his A Levels.
But Christmas 2015 came around and on a trip to Scotland to celebrate New Year, Jake fell ill again.
After being rushed to hospital in Dumfries and then Edinburgh, he was eventually taken back to Leeds and after a cancelled operation in January, he underwent a second operation in February.
Wanting to get better to complete his A Levels, Jake went back to school in a wheelchair and managed to take his exams.
And just one day before his 18th birthday, the results of a scan following the surgery came back clear.
Jake said: “That was amazing news, one day before my birthday. It was the best kind of birthday I’ve had.”
After achieving two As and a B in his A Levels, Jake was offered a place at Leeds University, but decided to defer it for a year so he could continue to recover.
Life is now looking up for Jake and his family and they will embark on their challenge next month.
Nearly £6,000 has been raised, smashing the initial target of £5,000, and a number of high-profile businesses have pledged their support.
Dad Martin, head teacher at Ravenscliffe High School and Sports College, said: “It gives the three of us an opportunity to ‘pay back’ the amazing work of Jake’s neurosurgeon and colleagues at the LGI who operated on Jake
“We are so thankful for the support and prayers of so many people in the last two years - many of whom we may never even meet.
“We totally believe those prayers made a massive difference and we remain so thankful that Jake has been blessed with the all clear and are convinced that he now has the brightest of futures.
“We want to walk ‘The Way’, partly because we always fancied doing it, especially after watching the film starring Martin Sheen, but mainly because we are so grateful for the surgery that Jake underwent and also because it’s a very practical way of honouring the unbelievable work that the neurosurgical team at the LGI do on a daily basis. This is our way of simply saying a massive thank you.”
Jake added: “It has been a crazy journey at times, but it feels good to be able to shut the book on it.”
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/moormansdotheway