Team of five from Newcastle take on the Great North Run on Sunday in memory of baby Zoe who sadly passed away in June. Zoe's mum Laura talks about her experience and why she signed up for the run.
"Our beautiful daughter Zoë was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia aged just 4 months. The diagnosis came as a complete shock and we were admitted into hospital on the spot at 2am after an evening of blood tests in A&E. The following morning we met our consultant and team. Zoë then had surgery for a central line to be put in and chemotherapy began immediately. Zoë and I then stayed in hospital for 6 weeks straight without returning home.
Meeting CLIC Sargent
"The first time I met our CLIC Sargent social worker was day 3 of being in the hospital. We were still in shock with the news and had been thrown into a whirlwind of treatment protocols, meeting professional after professional and trying to adjust to living life on the children’s cancer ward. Kirsten was a breath of fresh air in an environment where we were struggling to breathe.
"She was calm, empathetic, supportive and life giving. She gave me information about CLIC Sargent and the support they could provide us throughout our treatment journey. She also gave me a bag of ‘essentials’ which included information leaflets, toiletries, an eye-mask & ear plugs, and a notebook & diary (helpful for keeping notes of appointments & treatment information).
"Zoë went through 8 months of intensive chemotherapy treatment, most of that was spent as an inpatient on the children’s cancer ward at the RVI hospital, Newcastle. During our time as inpatients Kirsten regularly popped in to see us and gave my husband & I valuable emotional support, practical support, and she had a few cuddles with Zoë too!
"CLIC Sargent provided us with vital financial support, I was unable to work due to caring for Zoë and we couldn’t afford to live on one wage. CLIC Sargent researched which government benefits we would be eligible to receive and did all the form-filling for us to remove any pressure.
"They also arranged for us to receive some financial grants which allowed us to do some insulation work on our house so it would be warm for Zoës return from hospital. Once the intensive phase of treatment had ended, CLIC Sargent worked with another charity (TOMA Fund) for us to have a family holiday for Zoë’s 1st birthday at a caravan in Berwick. That was one of our most precious memories with her!
"I decided at the start of this year that I wanted to enter the Great North Run to raise money for CLIC Sargent to say a big thank you for their support. I also wanted to run in celebration of my beautiful daughter Zoë, having her at the finish line was going to be my motivation. My fitness was terrible after months spent in hospital doing no exercise so I started my training very slowly and steadily. Two of my friends and Zoë’s aunties signed up to do the GNR for CLIC Sargent with me, we decided to call ourselves ‘Zoë’s heroes’.
"In May this year we had the devastating news that the leukemia had relapsed and the treatment hadn’t been successful. 3 weeks later our beautiful daughter left this world and went to be in heaven aged 21 months.
"Understandably all thoughts of training were forgotten during this period. About 3 weeks after Zoë died my husband (a Strength & Conditioning coach at Smart Fitness, Newcastle) encouraged me to re-engage with training and stick with my goal to complete the Great North Run. My motivation would be the same, to run in celebration of our precious Zoë, to make her proud and to raise money & say thank you to CLIC Sargent for all they have done for us.
So with 10 weeks to go until the Great North Run, with the support of my husband and Smart Fitness who have given me an excellent training plan which has involved elements of strength, mobility and fitness work, I got back on track and am now looking forward to running alongside my ‘Zoë’s heroes’ team-mates on September 10!"
"I would encourage anyone to enter the Great North Run and raise money for CLIC Sargent! Whether you are at a low level of fitness or an athlete, with the right training, support and motivation you can achieve your fitness goals and help families like ours get through some of their most difficult times when journeying through cancer treatment. Thank you CLIC Sargent for all you do!"
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