Key worker Hayley Lawrence, from Hartford, has completed a virtual marathon over five days finishing on the day she should have been running the London Marathon for the charity Brain Tumour Research.
Hayley, aged 47, ran in memory of her daughter Alice’s friend who died of a brain tumour aged 13.
Hayley, a teaching assistant at Thorndown School, in St Ives, said: “My husband Phil, who is 58 and an emergency gas engineer, was diagnosed with a rare ganglioglioma brain tumour 13 years ago when our son Isaac was just four months old. I can remember feeling incredibly shocked reading the statistics about this deadly disease, especially that less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers.
She went to explain: “I recall meeting Alice’s new friend Amelia Sellen’s mum outside Houghton Primary School in Huntingdon, when Alice was seven and Tracey telling me that Amelia had been diagnosed with a ganglioglioma aged four. When I told her that Phil had been diagnosed with the same type of brain tumour in 2008, it gave her hope for her daughter. But tragically, although Amelia battled bravely for nine years, including enduring gruelling chemotherapy treatment, she lost the fight in October 2018.
“I signed up to Brain Tumour Research’s 2.6 Challenge and ran a virtual marathon, notching up 26 miles during the period from Tuesday last week to Sunday, which would have been the day I should have been running the London Marathon. I decided that being asthmatic running 26 miles in one day without emergency services backup or water stations wasn’t very sensible in the current climate – and in the event it was a very hot day on Sunday to be running any distance.
“It has been quite a challenge, particularly as for some reason the tree pollen, which I am super-allergic to, has been the worst I have ever known this year. I have had to go out early in the morning for my runs to avoid the height of the pollen and the heat and to reduce the number of people I might encounter.
“I am hugely grateful Phil continues to do well, but it’s always an anxious time coming up to his hospital check-ups in case anything has changed or the tumour has started growing.”
Brain Tumour Research spokesman Hugh Adams said: “It’s impossible not to be touched by Hayley’s story and, sadly, Alice and Phil are not alone – some 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year and, despite the fact they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“Like many organisations the coronavirus pandemic has meant a massive financial hit for us and we are anticipating the loss of 50 per cent of our annual income in just three months. We are grateful to Hayley and the many others who are helping us by taking part in our 2.6 Challenge on what would have been the day of the Virgin Money London Marathon.”
INFO: If you would like to sponsor Hayley, go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hayley-s-2-6-challenge1038.