Defiant Dan Mason is battling a brain tumour that is threatening to claim his sight – but he still has a smile on his face.
Despite spending more than 10 hours in hospital on January 26 – his ninth birthday – the Wearside lad is putting up a brave fight after being told he has cancer.
And now well wishers have raised more than £3,000 to help his family with travel expenses and lost income as they care for their boy.
Dan’s mum Nina Jonas, 37, first knew something was wrong when her son told her he was unable to see properly out of one eye.
The youngster, from Usworth, Washington, was referred for tests before being diagnosed with a glioma earlier this month.
The tumour is pressing on his optic nerve, which is what has caused his distorted vision.
The whole football team have been amazing. It’s overwhelming the amount of support we’ve had, it’s hard to take it all inNina Jonas, Dan’s mother
Dan, a talented footballer, who plays for Washington Juniors Oranges under-nines, had his first chemotherapy session at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle last week.
Support worker Nina said: “He looked like he’d had a knock to his eye, so I asked him about it. He said ‘what, the one I can’t see out of properly?’ He just thought it was normal.
“I took him to the optician and he couldn’t see bold, black letters. I knew something wasn’t right, call it mother’s instinct.”
Dan, who also lives with dad Steve Mason, 39, a warehouse operative, and big sister Anna, 14, now faces between 12 and 18 months of chemotherapy, in the hope that his eye can be saved.
“He’s doing really, really good in himself,” Nina said. “We’ve told him everything, so he is fully aware of what is going on. He knows he’s poorly and has to be careful.
“He is really taking everything in his stride, he wants to get better and go back to playing football.”
And the George Washington Primary School pupil has his beloved football team behind him.
Paul Davison, whose son Ellis plays with Dan, has set up a fundraising page to help the family through the financial strain of endless hospital visits.
Paul, 41, said: “My son plays in the under-nines team with Dan, he’s a lovely lad and a key member of the team.
“We were at training on Tuesday night discussing what we could do to help the family and someone mentioned the costs of visiting hospital and staying there all day were really high.
“I suggested that we could set up a page for donations and asked Kevin the coach to confirm Dan’s family were OK with us doing it.
“I created the page on Wednesday teatime and by the evening I was getting phone calls asking if I’d seen some of the huge donations.
“I set the original target at £500 and it raised over £3000 in 48 hours, including £1,500 from West Bromwich United and £500 from Washington Juniors. The reaction has been absolutely unbelievable.”
Nina said: “The whole football team have been amazing. It’s overwhelming the amount of support we’ve had, it’s hard to take it all in.”
To help Dan’s family, visit www.youcaring.com/daniel-mason-519552