When Vicky Ringer lost her little boy to a brain tumour in 2006 her whole world was turned upside down.
In the years since his death, the family has had a lot to cope with, but not even being diagnosed with breast cancer could compare with the pain of losing Levi who was just six years old when he died.
While his death is something she will never come to terms with, Miss Ringer has found strength in helping others in his memory.
Her charity Levi’s Star, which she runs with mum Val, has helped more than 100 children who have been diagnosed with brain tumours, since 2008, and has raised more than £130,000.
But she hopes today will mark the beginning of a new fundraising era, when her first children’s book is launched this week to help make the Ringers’ dreams of a family centre for children with cancer a reality.
‘Levi and Loobs meet Glitzy Glenda’ is based on stories Vicky tells her eight-year-old daughter Layla, who was only one when Levi died.
It features the brother and sister and also stars their cuddly toys.
Special needs teacher Miss Ringer said: “It’s about their adventures to other worlds on Levi’s Star. I really hope as many people as possible come along to the launch to kick-start the fund for the family centre.
“The idea is in its infancy, but we would love it to either be a purpose built place in Wakefield or elsewhere in Yorkshire, or perhaps an existing building, that children with cancer and their families can go to enjoy themselves, with play rooms for the children and special treats for parents like pampering sessions.”
Levi died on August 29, 2006, less than six months after his mum first took him to Pinderfields Hospital suffering with headaches.
The tumour was only discovered after his family pushed for a brain scan, but they lost their battle to prove Pinderfield’s doctors were negligent in 2008.
Miss Ringer said: “The grief you feel is indescribable. I couldn’t go back to the house after he died because his toys and things were just as he left them. I had to sell it in the end because I couldn’t cope with seeing his little friends playing in the street.”
A year after losing Levi, Miss Ringer lost her father Walter, before being diagnosed with breast cancer the following year. She and her mum Val have both battled the disease, and have undergone double mastectomies. Miss Ringer’s sister Lisa is also facing the surgery after it was discovered the family carries the breast cancer gene.
Miss Ringer said: “If I had been diagnosed a year earlier, I would’ve been tempted to say don’t treat me because i was grieving so deeply. I just wanted Levi back.
“But by the time the diagnosis came, we had started the charity and were beginning to pick up the pieces of our lives and I knew I had to carry on for Layla. She is my whole world. I remember being so angry though, and thinking why us again? But it paled into insignificance compared to what we had been through with Levi. Losing him was the worse thing that could possibly happen.”
Through her charity work, Miss Ringer also takes comfort from the fact that her son did not die in vain.
She said: “I really believe we’re on this earth for a reason and this helps me though. We’re here to make a difference to other people’s lives and Levi is the catalyst. I would rather he was still here, but I had a choice to make. I could either roll over and give up, but Levi is worth far too much to us for me to do that, or I could put my grief to good use to help others.”
For more information visit www.levisstar.co.uk