Twenty-five years after watching Sir Ian Botham pass by her house on his first legendary walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End, a leukaemia patient from Cannock will be joining the cricket hero on his special anniversary walk in Birmingham in two weeks.
Shelley Seabury, 40, was just teenager when she watched Beefy on his original trek to raise vital funds to fight childhood leukaemia for charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
Sadly the experience took on a poignant resonance when in May 2008 Shelley, who was preparing to emigrate to Canada with her young family, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
Shelley says: “About four weeks before we were due to emigrate I was feeling very rough and lethargic but I just put it down to stress. But my temperature soared about a week before our leaving date and my parents insisted I go and see a doctor. After checking me over the doctor immediately called the paramedics and I was rushed to Stafford Hospital where they discovered I had AML.”
Shelley spent 25 weeks in hospital in almost total isolation. All plans of moving to Canada were stalled. Her husband Mark and their two young children Mason, eight, and Ginny, three, lived out of suitcases with family and then in temporary accommodation as Shelley underwent intensive treatment including a bone marrow transplant from her brother Clive. Shelley barely saw her children at all during this time and found the experience heartbreaking.
But now Shelley is looking forward to taking part in Beefy’s walk in April along with her friend Dee Newman, who lost her mother to leukaemia 11 years ago.
Shelley says: “I still find it very hard when I think about the impact that it has had on my children and what would have happened if the treatment wasn’t successful. But I am positive about the future and it is thanks to Beefy and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research that I am here today. I am now on the road to recovery and starting to feel normal again. Doing this walk is my way of saying thank you to everyone.”
Sir Ian, who is President of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, says: “I never forget why I put myself through the pain and blisters. But I need people to sign up and join me on the walk and help ensure that every child diagnosed with one of these blood cancers survives. I won’t stop until we beat childhood leukaemia, but I can’t do it without you.”
Beefy will be walking through ten towns over ten days from 10-19 April. He will be setting out on the second day of his special charity walk from the Marks & Spencer on Birmingham’s High Street. He will walk for 10 miles through the city before arriving at Sutton Park, where people, like Shelley can join him and walk to raise vital funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
You can support Shelley as she walks with Beefy by donating on her JustGiving page.
Beefy's Great British Walk will take place in 2012. Find out more on the event page.