Posted on Tuesday 23 April 2019

in News

Mum makes running the London Marathon her mission in memory of her 17-year-old daughter

Emma Furneaux, a mum of three, lost all motivation after her daughter Elisha passed away in 2016 after being diagnosed with undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma. While watching the London Marathon last year, Emma thought of her daughter who lost her ability to walk before she died and decided to sign up to run the marathon and raise vital funds for CLIC Sargent.

Emma with her daughter Elisha

Emma said: “There are so many children and young people affected by cancer and I just want to help as many more families to be able to access the support we received.

“Elisha was ill for 26 weeks from diagnosis to her death and so I will be running a mile for every week she was ill and a little bit extra for good measure. I know it’s going to be hard physically but I’m excited.”

Elisha, 17, had been studying an NVQ in childhood studies and working as an apprentice at a nursery when she first started to complain of back pain.

“It was in January 2016 that we first noticed something wasn’t right. Elisha was working with young children at the time and so we thought her back pain might have been caused by her bending down to pick up the children.

“We went back and forth to the doctors and they just prescribed painkillers and had no serious concerns which frustrated us. They eventually sent her for an x-ray, however by that point it was too late. Before she got the results she collapsed at home as the tumour had broken through her vertebrae and was in her spine.”

What the family thought would be a slipped disc or back injury, turned into a six month hospital stay for Elisha and a shocking cancer diagnosis.

Emma said: “Everyone was so shocked and in disbelief. You just don’t expect cancer when your child has been fit and healthy and a normal 17-year-old. Apart from a bad back, Elisha had no other symptoms. By the time she was diagnosed, it had spread to her lungs, kidney and pelvis.

“The initial word of ‘cancer’ devastated our lives. You come out of it a completely different person with all the experiences you go through – and you never get back to the person you were.”

There are so many children and young people affected by cancer and I just want to help as many more families to be able to access the support we received."

During this difficult time, CLIC Sargent supported the Furneaux family. Elisha had a CLIC Sargent nurse who would visit the family home and take her bloods every week so that she was able to be discharged from hospital – and a CLIC Sargent Social Worker was on hand to talk to and help the family with financial grants.

“Elisha’s social worker helped her fill in a PIP application and apply for a CLIC Sargent grant. It made all the difference to Elisha. With the money she was able to buy an iPad which she could use in hospital.”

After enjoying time at home with her family and being back with her friends, Elisha passed away on October 5, 2016.

“I would be happy to stay at home all day after losing Elisha. Simon and I struggled for motivation for things and just couldn’t be bothered. That’s why I entered the London Marathon – it’s something to get motivated for and just to have a reason to get up and out every day.

“There are so many people who would love to do it but can’t and what better way to motivate myself and raise money. I think in a way it’s keeping Elisha’s memory going too.”

To sponsor and support Emma’s marathon challenge, visit


CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families.

To find out more about how we help young people cope with the impact of cancer, please visit our what we do section. If you need support yourself please contact us using our online enquiry form or call 0300 330 0803. 

For more information about CLIC Sargent, an interview or images, please contact Jessica Rees on 0117 311 2659 or email Out of hours contact 08448 481189.

About cancer in children and young people 
Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK. 
About CLIC Sargent 
When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit 
Note to sub-editors 
Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.    

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