A SCHOOLGIRL who thought she’d beaten her battle with brain cancer has died - just weeks after finding out it had returned.
Erin Bates, 12, finished a gruelling eight-month course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in March after being struck down with a brain tumour last June.
The tumour was so deeply embedded that doctors were unable to operate to remove it, but they were pleased with how Erin had responded to treatment.
The Washington youngster returned to her normal life, enjoying lessons with classmates at Oxclose Community Academy and supporting her beloved football teams.
But a month ago she began to experience headaches and nausea and, following a scan, doctors had to break the devastating news that the tumour had returned.
Just a fortnight ago, her family suffered more heartache when they were told the disease was terminal.
They tried to make as many memories as possible with Erin, and booked a limousine to take her for a special tour of her favourite club, SAFC.
But it was a journey she would never make. Erin died at home in Ayton on Tuesday.
Her devastated family have spoken of their grief.
“Things were looking really positive and doctors thought she’d responded well to treatment,” said dad Simon, 36, a company director.
Simon, who is married to Kirsty, 38, said: “I don’t think Erin understood how bad it was, it was only a fortnight ago that we were told it was terminal. Everything just happened so quickly.”
Erin’s battle with the brain tumour had touched the hearts of the community.
Last summer the inspirational schoolgirl helped to raise £5,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust with a charity football match at Durham County Football Association in Chester-le-Street.
Hundreds attended a special memorial night at the club held after her death and the plan is to continue Erin’s Marathon Match in honour of the youngster.
Impressed by her fund-raising efforts, the FA invited Erin to be a player escort at England’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova last September.
Football-mad Erin, a former Holley Park Academy primary pupil, got to walk the hallowed Wembley pitch with her heroes, a moment her family will never forget.
Despite her illness, Erin always attended school and even matches with team-mates from Washington AFC under-12s.
Football coach Simon, who is also dad to Olivia, six, and Lauryn, 15, said: “We are so very proud of Erin.”
The family would like to thank the staff at Newcastle’s RVI Hospital, Ward 14, for caring for Erin during her illness.
•Erin’s funeral will take place tomorrow (TUE) at Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Washington Village, at 3pm.