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The reason to run, by Leah Burfoot

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Leah Burfoot

By Leah Burfoot.

I've never really been a runner.

When I was younger I couldn't think of anything more boring than running. I was about 11 when my whole family started to run, so it made me hate it even more.

In March 1994, Dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). I was too young to have any understanding of what was going on or the seriousness of the situation. It's only now I realise how young dad was. At just 34 years old, he was fit, healthy and in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). Being medically downgraded was not in his plan.

Dad is a strong-minded, stubborn, hardworking man; he was not going to let this diagnosis control him.

In 1996 he ran the London Marathon for the first time, raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, finishing in three hours 24 minutes. He then did it again in 1998, finishing in three hours 26 minutes, this time raising money for Marie Curie.

Dad has always been a keen runner, competing in quite a few races including half marathons, 10ks and also another marathon which was sponsored by the REME.

Fast-forwarding to March 2015, after 21 years to the month after his MS diagnosis, dad was admitted to hospital after suffering with mouth ulcers, a high temperature and continual throat infections which weren't responding to antibiotics. 

After having blood tests, the results came back telling us his white blood cell count was ridiculously low. It was on Tuesday 17th March 2015 that he was given the diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). 

After eight tough weeks of treatment, we heard the amazing news that dad was in remission. Six months later, he had just started undergoing tests ready for his donor stem cell transplant. This is when we had the devastating and unexpected news that he was no longer in remission and it had come back; this time it’s more aggressive. Dad is currently in his 28-day treatment cycle. I’m praying for a miracle.

This is my reason to run.

After losing seven stone, I feel blessed to have my health and I need to use this to do something worthwhile. My dad is 100% my inspiration.

I have to admit though, being a full-time, married mum of three, working part-time, running a busy household and not being a natural-born, passionate runner, I find training tough. Some days I feel like I can’t do it. However, having so much support from my dad, family, friends and Leukaemia CARE, gives me the courage to keep going.

The pride and excitement on my Dad’s face when I told him I had a place running the 2016 London Marathon was awesome!

See you in my next blog!

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