A six-year-old girl from Redditch is set to take on a huge challenge despite her ongoing cancer treatment. 

Maya Mason crossed the finish line at Redditch Race for Life last year just six months after being told she had a large tumour spreading across her chest. 

The youngster had only gone along to watch her family race in her honour, but instead of clapping from the side lines, she managed to complete the 5k course alongside her cousin. 

Officials at Cancer Research UK were so impressed that she has now been invited to sound the starter horn from the stage as a VIP at Arrow Valley Park this Sunday (June 9). 

Maya is now 18 months into her ongoing treatment plan and is determined to complete the course again this year. 

Redditch Advertiser: Six-year-old Maya MasonSix-year-old Maya Mason (Image: Cancer Research UK)

Her dad Jordan Mason said: "We couldn't believe it when she took off last year. I ended up sprinting across the field with her. I kept asking if she wanted to stop but she insisted she wanted to keep going. 

"She absolutely loved it and can't wait to do it again this year so me, her mum Hollie and her brother Theo have all signed up as well. 

"We're so proud of her and we want her to know we will always be there for her."

Maya was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma in January 2023 after experiencing stomach pains. 

Doctors initially thought she had pulled a muscle doing gymnastics, so it came as a devastating blow to her parents when they were told she had a 13cm tumour growing across her chest wall. 

She ended up having surgery and chemotherapy which led to her losing her hair. 

Redditch Advertiser: Maya with her dad Jordan Mason Maya with her dad Jordan Mason (Image: Cancer Research UK)

Mr Mason, who works at Jaguar Land Rover, said: "We were totally shocked. It was like a nightmare we couldn't wake up from, but we were determined that we would do everything we could to make sure she got the best treatment and stayed strong.

"Maya has been an absolute champion. She missed six months of school and gymnastics but never complains and has remained really positive and bubbly throughout."

Maya is on an intense course of chemotherapy as part of a Cancer Research UK-funded clinical trial comparing different treatment regimens for Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Due to the trial, it is not yet clear whether Maya, who attends Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic First School, will finish treatment maintenance in September or continue for another year. 

She completed her first Race for Life after her initial course of chemotherapy with the keen gymnast also attending her first gymnastics competition shortly afterwards before heading to Manchester for proton bean therapy. 

Mr Mason said: "Watching Maya cross the finish line at Race for Life last year was a hugely emotional but overwhelmingly proud moment. 

"We decided we’d all take part this year because research is so important. Maya is living proof of that."

Redditch Advertiser: Maya rings the bell after proton beam therapy Maya rings the bell after proton beam therapy (Image: Cancer Research UK)

Birmingham is home to Cancer Research UK’s Children’s Cancer Trials Team, the only one of its kind in the UK.

The team puts the city at the forefront of children’s cancer research and coordinates ground breaking clinical trials in many centres across the UK.

Paula Young, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK in the West Midlands, said: "We’re thrilled that Maya will be our VIP starter this year and we’d like to thank her and her family from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us."

Andy Curran, Chief Executive of Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, said: "We are incredibly proud to continue as headline sponsor for Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, with the opportunity to encourage participation across the country.

"By working to raise funds for life-saving research, we can move towards a future where people live longer and healthier lives, free of cancer."

To enter visit www.raceforlife.org