My mum, Ruth, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in July 2017. Mum had been in hospital for three weeks prior to the diagnosis with pain across her pelvis and a very high CRP count, showing she had inflammation and was likely to be fighting an infection.
Getting the diagnosis was a shock when, up until this point, Mum had been a very active 72-year-old. With four daughters of her own, plus eight grandchildren ranging from five to 18 years old, Mum was kept busy, alongside her busy social diary too.
At no point did we suspect anything serious was wrong until the hospital visit, and it did feel like a total shock to us all. Once Mum had the diagnosis, my sisters, myself and my dad squeezed into the Haematologist’s office to hear the good and the bad about treatment options and choices that my mum could make. The word ‘leukaemia’ had shocked us all. We were in a new ‘world’; one that we hadn’t planned for and certainly weren’t prepared for. My mum took everything far better than any of us and we were quick to realise we needed to adapt to the diagnosis and be 100% by Mum’s side. We asked lots of questions, googled everything we could (possibly not the best idea!) and looked at ways we could support Mum both physically and emotionally. We had to get used to a lot of medical jargon, changes to diet and adjusting the house to accommodate her needs.
On top of this, we also needed to bear in mind that Dad had also had a huge shock. Future plans and aspirations changed overnight. He became a carer, a chef, a cleaner, plus many more roles instantly as we realised Mum needed to focus on her own strength and health.
Three months on from the diagnosis and life has shifted in a more positive direction. Mum is in a routine with medication, naps in the day and taking things a little easier. We don’t need to focus on ‘leukaemia’ each time we see my parents. The shock of the diagnosis is over (although the sadness is still very much there inside us all) and we are making the best of our time together as a family. Maybe we aren’t doing the same things we used to, but we are at the very least still doing things together. Quality time is important to us all, as is planning ahead so that we have things to look forward to. In the summer, we were worried about mentioning Christmas, as we didn’t know what was ahead of us. Now, we are looking at December and beyond. Mum is doing as well as she can and her determination to live her life to the full is clear to all around her.
The care she has received from the hospital has been brilliant and advice from Leukaemia Care has helped my family support my mum in the best way we are able to.
I have never run the London Marathon, but have run in races raising money for Cancer Research. Training is hard. I enjoy running but suit around 10km. Now that I am running further than 10km, I am starting to ache and feel my age! However, my mum’s situation is in the forefront of my mind always, so that helps.
My husband, Nigel, is also running the London Marathon for Leukaemia Care and he has run the marathon a few times before, so I am using his experience to help me.
We have already started our fundraising. I have been posting social media updates on how the longer runs go and keeping people informed of how well Mum is doing. At the end of each update I post I put the link to the fundraising page and the money is slowly creeping up. We also plan to hold a quiz night in our local pub and have already started contacting companies to support us with prizes and donations. My parents are also keen to support us and intend to fundraise themselves.
Deciding to run the London Marathon was not the easiest of decisions, but choosing Leukaemia Care as my chosen charity was easy. We have done, and will continue to, benefit from the charity as we reach different stages of Mum’s diagnosis. So, raising money to help others also benefit is an obvious reason to run.