By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — In 1998, Christine Irvin got the worst news a parent could face — her child had a brain tumor.
The Derry woman’s then 5-month-old son Noah was diagnosed with a tumor the size of a lemon.
For the next eight years, Noah endured countless experimental therapies and treatments. Now, his tumor has shrunk to the size of a grape and Noah was able to graduate from the eighth grade in June at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, receiving a Courage Award from the school.
Irvin will now honor her son’s life and successes and join with more than 8,000 participants to walk in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk on Sept. 8.
She will be one of a Derry contingent of seven walkers who will take part to honor those battling adult and pediatric cancer and also help support research.
This is Irvin’s first Jimmy Fund Walk in more than 10 years.
“It’s like a celebration,” Irvin said. “You are with a whole group of people who have been touched by cancer in one way or another.”
Irvin will walk for Noah, now 14, who is her daily inspiration. She will push her son along the route in a stroller and will be part of the team “Noah’s Ark,” formed in the boy’s honor.
The one-day, 26.2-mile walk along the historic Boston Marathon route has a goal to raise $7 million to support lifesaving adult and pediatric patient care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In Irvin’s case, it’s been years of having Noah undergo numerous tests, surgeries and hospitalizations to treat his tumor and illness.
His vision is compromised and he has mental and physical disabilities, Irvin said. But his spirit is strong and his outlook is good.
“His tumor hasn’t grown in six years,” she said. “He’s doing very well.”
Noah goes back to Boston every nine months for an MRI and is ready to be a freshman at Pinkerton Academy soon. He also goes to bed every night listening to Beatles’ songs
Irvin credited the strong support in the Derry school system for helping her son succeed. She also has met with the Pinkerton team and is looking forward to Noah’s high school years.
“We’ve had some great teachers and good experiences in Derry,” she said.
Other Derry residents walking include Debbie Anshewitz, Julie Ayres O’Donnell, Deborah Donovan, Brenda Kehoe, Robert Leonard and Matthew Twaska.
Since it began, the Jimmy Fund walk has raised nearly $87 million to help those battling cancer and to support cancer research. To learn more about the walk, visit jimmyfundwalk.org.