FAMILY and friends of an eight-year-old Rudheath boy battling a rare form of cancer are lacing up for a mammoth endurance challenge.

Saul Barry Hayden with diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant Rhabdoid tumour in April, undergoing intensive treatment.

Ahead of a radical operation in Birmingham next week, Saul will be cheering walkers on from his Rudheath home as they take on a 25-mile trek on Saturday, September 14 – the equivalent of the distance to Alder Hey where he has been treated.

His mum, Vicki Kay-Spruce, and sister Izzy (pictured) are among those taking part, with donations helping to support the family as they try to keep up with appointments, living costs and frequent travel to Liverpool and beyond.

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For Saul, this has meant a variety of tests, more than 300 injections and eight rounds of chemotherapy since April to shrink the tumour – with another six scheduled post-surgery.

Vicki said: “I just found this lump. After they did an ultrasound they said ‘go to Alder Hey now’.

“It was really sudden – he was only poorly for about a week and it just seemed like a normal virus. There was nothing out of the ordinary – even his school said he had seemed normal.”

FUNDRAISER: Saul's Super Troopers 25-mile walk

A tumour in his liver had spread to his lungs, and was making its way through arteries towards his heart. An extremely rare form of cancer, there is no proven treatment plan.

“The doctors just don’t know,” Vicki said. “Most cancers have a treatment plan, but this is so rare.

"If you had leukaemia, there is a treatment plan that they know can work. This affects everyone differently, so they just throw whatever they can at it.”

Despite being told surgery would be too dangerous, Saul has responded well to treatment so far and doctors have now given the go-ahead.

The autotransplant procedure will see Saul’s liver removed and arteries clamped, before the tumour is cut away from his liver and the organ is replaced in his body, possibly with new synthetic arteries.

In what is a heartbreaking situation for any family, Vicki says she has been awestruck by her son’s reaction.

“Saul just smiles,” she said. “He doesn’t complain, he makes jokes and bounces all over the place – it’s just incredible. You wouldn’t know he had been through what he has.

“That’s what we have been holding onto. He is so determined to carry on and just be a normal eight-year-old boy. If anyone can beat this, it’s Saul.

“It has been exhausting for all of us, and I’m just feeding off his strength. It makes things so much easier getting out of bed and knowing nine times out of 10 he will still be smiling and happy.”

The walk on Saturday will take Saul’s Super Troopers from Carey Park onto Neumann’s Flash, Marbury Park and the Anderton Boat Lift. Refreshment stops from there – and chances to join in – are the Hazel Pear, Hanging Gate, White Barn, Red Lion, Bulls Head, Kingfisher, Bowling Green, Iron Bridge and The Lodge, returning to Carey Park.