Self-confessed couch potato Anya from Northamptonshire who works for one of our corporate partners BAM Construct UK, and her wife Sue, are running 5k this September in memory their niece Naomi. Naomi was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and passed away in her mum’s arms ten years ago, aged two years and five months.
Here Anya explains how the help Naomi and her family received from CLIC Sargent, has inspired her to get her off the couch and in training to raise money to help other families in need.
"Anyone who knows me will also know I am so unfit that I make a sloth look hyperactive! And that generally, I really don’t like to move any quicker than a slow walk...
"But CLIC supported my family through Naomi’s illness and has continued to provide support for her brothers and her mum, my sister Nikki, since Naomi died. That's what’s motivated me to get active.
"Naomi was a happy normal baby developing at the average rate as any other baby, until she reached 18 months old. Nikki noticed that she was favouring one side of her body. Then Naomi started to have other worrying symptoms, and by July a scan had found the tumour.
"She had eleven hours of surgery at Birmingham Children's Hospital and my sister was in pieces watching her baby girl go through so much. Even after the surgery Naomi only had a 10% chance of surviving.
“Nikki was devastated, and had never before felt so alone. Her partner stayed at home, in their home village near to Northampton to look after her three older sons, and her heart was torn, being so far away from them, but she knew they were safe and that it was for the best.
"When she was first approached by a woman from CLIC Sargent who works on the children’s ward she wasn’t keen on talking to them, and asked them to leave her alone. She says she was too proud to admit that she couldn't cope, and at the time was blaming herself for Naomi's illness.
"But the lady from CLIC Sargent kept coming back, not pressuring her, but checking in to see how things were, and eventually she ended up pouring her heart out to them.
“Nikki says that CLIC Sargent being by her side when she needed to talk, especially at the times when she felt like giving up, meant so much to her. Knowing they were at the end of the phone whenever she needed them helped her get through some really dark times.
"When the shattering news came that nothing more could be done for Naomi, CLIC Sargent helped my sister and her family make some special memories together in the time they had left.
“They arranged a family holiday for them, and even arranged a limo to the airport! On that holiday the family stayed in CLIC Sargent’s holiday home Malcolm Sargent House.
That holiday, Naomi got to fly on a plane for the first time, go to the beach, and got to enjoy herself for the first time since treatment started seven months before. CLIC Sargent even arranged for them to have a camcorder so that they could capture as much as they could of them altogether on film, and I know they treasure those tapes.
"Their amazing support continued after she died, they had a bereavement break, again at Malcolm Sargent House and it was a special place for them. For these reasons I am passionate about raising as much money as possible for this amazing charity as I can via my 5k run. And money raised through my Just Giving account will be match funded by BAM, the company I work for giving me even more incentive to get moving.
"When our company announced they were looking for a new charity partner I put forward and championed CLIC Sargent every step of the way, and my sister wrote a letter explaining in detail what a difference the charity makes to families like hers.
"We found out that CLIC Sargent won the partnership last December just before what would have been her 12th birthday. When I phoned my sister to let her know we were both in tears.
"We all miss Naomi a lot; she was a typical happy pretty little girl and could be annoying and noisy too! All the things kids that age are. Running this 5k with my wife will be our way of paying tribute to our lovely niece, and my wonderful sister."
To sponsor Anya, please visit her Just Giving page.
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