Thinking about her son will keep Helen on track at London Marathon

Just 13 months after taking part in the marathon in 2011, Helen's son Samuel was diagnosed with leukaemia and underwent three years of treatment. Samuel is now six and London Marathon day 2016 will mark a year to day that he received his last treatment. Here, Helen tells her story:

Thinking about her son will keep Helen on track at London Marathon

“When I got a ballot place in the London Marathon in 2011 I hadn’t planned to run for charity but I was looking through the race magazine and read that I could fundraise for CLIC Sargent.  At the time, I didn’t have any connection to CLIC Sargent but I thought it seemed like a nice thing to do. 

“In April 2011 I completed the marathon for the first time. I ran with my Mum and Dad - we crossed the line together with my husband Andy and son Samuel watching from the side-lines, cheering us on.

“Not long after the marathon, I fell pregnant and in April 2012 I gave birth to my daughter Katie. Leading up to Katie’s birth, Samuel had a run of high temperatures and tonsillitis. He’d been picking up infections for a while and I didn’t think much of it but, when Katie was just four weeks old, my mum looked at Samuel and said he was pale.

"Then we sat him up and I noticed a purple rash on his ankle. I was so worried I took him to A&E. We arrived at 9am and they took bloods. By 2pm in the afternoon, we were told he had leukaemia.

Samuel’s diagnosis

“When we were told I cried and left the room. I didn’t come back for a few minutes. My husband was sat in stunned silence. There wasn’t really time to take it in as Samuel needed to be transferred to Bristol Children’s Hospital to start treatment. We were told he would be there for at least four weeks.

“I worried about how we were going to cope with a new-born and our son in hospital three hour’s drive from home. But when we got to the hospital, we found out CLIC Sargent had left a key at the reception desk.

"A nurse explained it was for CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home and we could stay as long as we wanted. Our immediate worries disappeared – which meant we could focus on Samuel. I stayed by his bed that night while the rest of the family got some sleep. 

A CLIC Sargent Social Worker came to see us and explained what they did. She then left us with a pack of information and told us to take it in slowly. We read it and were really impressed. It was done so well that most was fairly self explanatory. You could tell it was written in a way that a parent who’s child had just had been diagnosed would want to read.

After treatment 

“Since finishing treatment he has been okay. One of the infections means he’s lost hearing in his right ear – which is permanent. He is catching up with other kids his age though and although he still gets infections, in general he is happy.

“I think it would have been lonely without CLIC Sargent. It’s the little things that are really important. 

London Marathon 2016

“I am nervous about doing the marathon again. Training is going okay although I could have done more running but it’s been hard with two kids!  I think I’m ready. I’m fully expecting to hit the wall again but I think having done it before I think I will be more prepared for it.

"At the moment, in training, I’m running down country lanes with support from my mum and it’s tempting to give up when it gets hard. But on the big day, I know I’ll have the crowd and CLIC Sargent to keep me going. Thinking about Samuel and what he’s been through will keep me going too. 

“I don’t know how we would have managed without CLIC Sargent. Having someone on the phone to answer little questions is vital. It’s so important to have that support network when you’re facing something as tough as childhood cancer. I was lucky to have family. For others, like single parent families or those who have no nearby relatives, CLIC Sargent is a lifeline.”

Find out more

To find out how you can take part in an upcoming running event for CLIC Sargent, please contact our Running Events team on 0845 602 4770 or run@clicsargent.org.uk 

If you are interested in coming along to the London Marathon to cheer on Helen and all of our other runners then please complete our London Marathon volunteer registration form.

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