Emma B
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Bottoms Up!

Emma B
Posted by
22 May 2017

Why running can do so much good - The third Bottoms Up Cup will hopefully be the biggest yet!

 

The Bottoms Up Cup is Washington Running Club’s annual race.  The race is also a memorial race for my dad, Stephen Bottoms, who was a member of the original club back in the 80s. 

My dad used to be a great runner, a natural.  It wasn’t until I gave running a go for myself that I realised it wasn’t as easy as he made it look! My dad ran right up until the doctors told him he couldn’t, when the cancer removed from his eye had progressed to his liver.  He used to say that he knew he was healthy when he was running and it was a sad day when he hung up his trainers.

He would have been over the moon that the running club had re-formed a year after he passed away, that three of his daughters were members and there was a race named after him! 

I loved running with the club, they are a tremendous group and it wasn’t long before I started getting stronger and faster.  It was discouraging when in August 2015, I started to struggle with nausea, headaches, cramps, tight calves or sweats lasting for hours after a run.  I felt like I was just making excuses, imagining the other runners thinking “what’s wrong now Emma?”

A month later and the Great North Run was the hardest one yet, it was hot and I had nothing in the tank.  I almost cried at the 8-mile mark, a mixture of frustration and disappointment.  Three weeks later I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

I don’t know how to describe the moment I heard the word Leukaemia, it’s like your whole life flashes before your eyes and you’re suddenly aware that there are no certainties in life.   You have to summon up all of the strength you have and get ready for big changes.

Intensive treatment followed and with infections, surgery and the toll of chemotherapy, I spent most of the year between the sofa, hospital wards and the ICU.  I couldn’t run anymore and my muscles had wasted away.  I miss the freedom of running, being out in the fresh air, getting rid of stress or just socialising with the club.

I’ve got another year and a bit of treatment to go and I’ve got long way to building strength, but I can’t wait until I can get out and run again.  In the meantime, I’ll be cheering the runners from the side-lines at the Bottoms Up Cup this year.

I’m not the only one from our running club who has experienced the devastation of blood cancer, Andrew's son Jonathan was diagnosed with ALL back in 2012 soon after his 4th birthday. It was this diagnosis that got Andrew into running; after the initial shock he decided he needed to do something (anything!) to fundraise for a charity that was helping his family to get through this.

As a parent, it's so unbelievably difficult to stand back and trust in the treatment that you hope will save your child. You'd swap places in a heartbeat and you feel helpless, especially in the beginning. So sometimes fundraising and awareness is all you feel you can do.

Andrew joined the running club and chose the Great North Run as a goal for 2013, raising funds for Bloodwise. Fast-forward 5 years, and Andrew is now in training for his 5th GNR (and has even roped his wife in this year!), still supporting Bloodwise for all the fantastic research they have done and lives saved as a result. Jonathan is now almost 18 months off treatment and is doing great. After 3 years of treatment causing mobility problems and a serious lack of energy, he and his little brother Liam will be attending the Bottoms-Up cup fun run this year too!

The running community are tremendous and I’m delighted that this year the Bottoms Up Cup will be supporting Bloodwise to raise awareness and funds.  Both the Adult and Children's Race runners have an opportunity to collect sponsorship and they’ll be refreshments and a raffle on the day.  I’m hoping we can make this year’s Bottoms Up Cup the best one yet. 

To find out how you can take part in the Bottoms Up Cup visit: http://www.washingtonrc.co.uk/races/

Fundraising page - http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/WRCBottomsUp

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