A mum from Willenhall stepped out of her comfort zone and into an MMA fighting cage to raise over £1,200 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity in memory of her son, Reece, 12.  

Jenna Probert tragically lost Reece in 2019, after he was diagnosed with a rare brain stem tumour. One day, after school, Jenna noticed that Reece had a floppy thumb, but as he was an active child who participated in boxing, she thought it had been damaged in training. Within a couple of weeks however, Reece had also developed a painless limp which affected his mobility and couldn’t close his left eye.  

Understandably concerned, Jenna contacted 111 who then sent an ambulance to assess him. Once the paramedics arrived and had examined him, they spoke to Jenna separately and told her he would need further testing in hospital, as they were concerned it could be something quite serious.  

By the time the two reached their local hospital, Reece had also started to struggle to swallow. He underwent some scans and tests and it was a painful wait for the results. A few hours later however, Jenna was given the worrying news that a mass in his brain had been identified and they would need to urgently transfer Reece to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for further investigation. Once there, Reece had a further MRI scan which confirmed the earth-shattering news that he had an extremely aggressive and rare brain stem tumour known as DIPG. This terminal diagnosis predicted that even with treatment, Reece would only have between six to nine months left to live. Jenna was in complete shock. 

Reece received radiotherapy to shrink the tumour temporarily to regain movement and ability to swallow and had a few months of being himself again. Jenna says Reece’s infectious, fighting spirit kept him going to the end and he even refused hospice care as he wished to remain at home in his final months. 

Despite the bleak prognosis, Reece surprised doctors and family by surviving for 12 months after his diagnosis and passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family on 8 December 2019. 

In his final months, Reece continuously enjoyed watching MMA, which inspired mum Jenna to take on an MMA Experience in Reece’s memory and to raise money for the Oncology and Neurosurgery Wards at the Children’s Hospital for the care Reece received after his diagnosis. 

Along with her friend Kelly, who joined her in fundraising, Jenna took on eight weeks of strenuous MMA training led by Dan Korbely of MMA Wolverhampton. The MMA training proved to be both physically and mentally difficult, but her perseverance to take on the challenge in Reece’s name saw her through all the way up to and during her fight. On the night, 

Jenna honoured Reece by bringing out a picture of him to the cage and even walked out to one of his funeral songs, Vossi Bop by Stormzy. 

The energy in the room was simply electric as Jenna and Kelly had sold 60 tickets, which was the most any competitor had ever sold for this event. With the room filled with support and love for Jenna and Reece, Jenna gave it everything she had and took on three rounds before losing in her fight, but still raising a phenomenal amount for the Children’s. 

Jenna said: “Even though I lost my match, I really felt like I won by taking on something so out of my comfort zone, which Reece would have been so proud of, and raising money for the Children’s Hospital, who were amazing from day one. I will never forget how they did everything they could. I am so proud to remember Reece this way and I've done myself proud for a wonderful cause.” 

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, added: Jenna has had to deal with the worst thing any parent can imagine, but for her to channel her grief into something so positive – fundraising to help other patients at our hospital – is incredibly inspiring. We’re sure Reece was watching over her and cheering her on, on the night. We are extremely grateful for Jenna and Kelly’s fundraising, and hope Jenna finds some comfort in knowing that she’s created a wonderful legacy for Reece at our hospital.”