ERIN Bates is as brave as they come.
The Washington 11-year-old was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour after just a week of symptoms.
But the keen footballer is fighting back, and is in the midst of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment in a bid to shrink the tumour.
The radiotherapy section of Erin’s treatment will finish on August 28. Amazingly, she is hoping to be well enough to join her team, Washington AFC under-12s, later that day for a charity football match.
Erin’s courageous story has inspired the seven-hour tournament, in aid of The Teenage Cancer Trust, at Durham FA’s ground in Chester-le-Street.
The community has been so touched by her battle that more than £1,000 has already been raised for the charity before the starting whistle has even been blown at the event, entitled Erin’s Marathon Match.
It even has the support of stars from the football world.
Sunderland 1973 FA Cup winner Jimmy Montgomery and England ladies winger Jess Clarke have pledged to attend the event.
Also, items signed by SAFC’s Adam Johnson and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo are among donations to a blind auction as part of fund-raising.
Erin’s father Simon, who is also dad to Lauryn, 14, and Olivia, five, said: “Erin really wants to be able to play with her team which is the last match of the day.
“She finishes her radiotherapy that morning, so hopefully she’ll be able to play.”
“The 35-year-old, from Ayton, added: “Erin’s an SAFC fan and she’s over the moon with the support the day’s been getting. We’ve had messages from all over the world and it’s very hard not to get emotional reading them.”
Doctors had first thought Erin – who is due to start at Oxclose Community Academy next month – may have had a virus, until she began to suffer vision problems.
A scan revealed that she had a brain tumour which is so deeply embedded, doctors are unable to operate to remove it.
Simon said: “Erin was supposed to be going to North East Live at the Stadium of Light on the day she was diagnosed, but she’d been ill for about a week.
“We’d taken her to hospital a couple of times, but she lost vision for a little bit which really set alarm bells ringing.
“They did a scan which showed she had a high-grade fast-growing tumour.”
Erin’s treatment began immediately at Newcastle’s RVI hospital.
Though doctors are pleased with her progress, she still has another eight to 10 months of chemotherapy ahead of her.
“Erin’s coped with it quite well,” said Simon, who is married to Kirsty, 37. “She’s kept us going to be honest.”
Simon, who is Washington AFC under-15 Lionesses manager, added: “We felt that Erin’s illness didn’t have to be all negatives, and if we could help to raise money for such a great organisation then at least other young people going through similar illnesses could benefit whilst in hospital.”
l For more information on playing on the day, or if anyone who would like to donate a raffle prize, contact Tina Reed at Durham FA on Tina.Reed@DurhamFA.com or call 387 2928.
l Items being auctioned in the silent auction can be viewed at www.erinsmarathonmatch.info