Cancer fight Leeds teenager's motorsport career dream on hold

The mum of a Leeds teenager  whose dreams of a career in motorsport are on hold as he fights cancer is appealing to people to back a fundraising campaign for lifesaving treatment.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 11:26 am
Joel Pearson

Joel Pearson, 17, of Swillington, competed in two seasons of the Ginetta Junior Championship when he was just 14 and was set to move on to the next stage.

Joel should have been competing in Formula 4 racing this year, but in early February he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer in his pelvic area.

He cannot take part in Formula 4 as undergoes intensive chemotherapy treatment.

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Joel Pearson pictured driving an F4 car.

After almost nine months of chemotherapy the tumour is responding well, but cannot be completely eradicated by chemotherapy alone.

Joel's mum Joanne, 42, said he needs carbon ion therapy - a radiation treatment that only six centres worldwide can give him.

Funding for the treatment funding is not available on the NHS and cannot be performed in the UK.

Joanne said Joel has been accepted for seven weeks of treatment at the Heidelberg Cancer Centre in Germany.

Joel Pearson

Costs to cover the treatment start at £270,000 and the family has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £100,000 to cover initial fees so Joel can start the treatment.

The appeal has so far raised more than £17,500.

Joel, who studied at Garforth Academy, has undergone six months of intensive chemotherapy at Leeds General Infirmary.

He spent two weeks in hospital suffering from sepsis at the end of June, including five days in intensive care.

Joel Pearson pictured driving an F4 car

Joanne said: "Before all this he was a race car driver. His life was completely in the fast lane."

She said Joel first became interested in go karting aged 10 after Dad Lee took him to an indoor track in Leeds.

Joel then started racing for a team called Tockwith near Wetherby.

He raced karts until he was 14 and has been testing race cars for a number of years.

Joanne said Joel has competed at race tracks across the UK including Brands Hatch and has completed two seasons in the Ginetta Junior Championship.

Joanne said: "He had completed the 2020 season in the Ginetta juniors and he was testing the cars for a step up to Formula 4 series with a team called Argenti."

Joel, who has an 18-year-old sister called Abigail, was driving the Formula 4 cars at tracks at Snetterton in Norfolk and Donnington Park in the East Midlands in November and December last year.

"He loved it and was really looking forward to the season," said Joanne.

"The thought of competing again next year is the only thing keeping him going, the thought that he can hopefully get out in a car again.

"We are trying to keep positive, otherwise it is easy to slip into depression.

"It is just taking each day or each treatment at a time.

"We try and get him out to see his mates wherever possible and keep in touch with his friends so we can keep him as perked up as possible.

"I do break down and cry every now and again, usually when I'm on my own and can. It is not the easiest situation to be in."

Joanne said her family is appealing to people to support the fundraising drive to pay for Joel's carbon ion therapy treatment at the Heidelberg Cancer Centre in Germany.

She said: "They have tested it out on so many people in the clinical trials and it seems to be working, alongside some more chemotherapy."

Joel's sister Abigail wrote on the gofund me appeal page: "Costs to cover the treatment start at £270,000 and will increase with any additional MRI/ CT scans/ chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

"It is appreciated that the cost is high and have therefore sent the target to £100,000 to help cover the initial costs so Joel can obtain the treatment necessary. With love and hope."

The gofundme appeal is called 'Help Joel get overseas treatment and beat cancer!'

Click here to support the appeal.