PARALYMPIC hopeful Kieran Maxwell, who lost a leg to cancer, has suffered a relapse, his devastated family has confirmed.

The 14-year-old, from Heighington, near Darlington, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in October 2010, resulting in his left leg being amputated at the knee.

The inspirational teenager had been in remission and carried the Olympic torch through Bishop Auckland, as well as winning a national gymnastics title.

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His mother, Nicola, said the family were ‘knocked for six’ earlier this month, when a chest X-ray during a routine check-up revealed the cancer had returned.

Kieran will undergo two cycles of chemotherapy over the coming months.

Mrs Maxwell said: “We found out on May 10 that it had come back, but it has not spread and he has already started treatment.

“He is having the chemotherapy, then they are going to see what they are going to do after that – there is no relapse protocol, everyone responds differently.

“He has got a good chance, as it has been caught early. It has been a big shock, but he is going to fight it.

“Kieran is doing OK, he is a good kid, but this has still not fully sunk in yet.”

Earlier this week, The Northern Echo reported on Kieran’s triumph in a national gymnastics competition, with his partner Abbie Ramsey, from Shildon.

His talent as a gymnast led to speculation that he could one day represent Team GB at the Paralympics, if his event is adopted as a medal event.

Mrs Maxwell praised her son for going ahead with last weekend’s competition in Stoke having only recently received the bad news about his health.

She added: “He was determined to win and has already been co-ordinating his next tournament with his coach.

“His oncologist has said ‘go for it’ as long as he is not hurting himself.”

A friend of the family added: “Because of the complex nature of the cancer, Kieran will require intense treatment over the next few months.

“The family are devastated by the news. They remain inspired by Kieran’s courage in the face of this latest setback and respectfully ask that they are allowed to deal with the situation in private.”

Efforts to raise funds for new prosthetic limbs for Kieran have raise thousands in recent years, not least the five-figure contribution from Euromillions lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir.

For now, the focus is on helping Kieran win his latest battle with cancer.