Ex-Wolves midfielder and leukaemia survivor Geoff Thomas is preparing to take on the BUPA Great Birmingham Run on Sunday 23 October for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, just weeks after cycling to Mt Everest's Base Camp.
Geoff was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in 2003 shortly after retiring from professional football. Geoff beat the disease and can now add conquering the world’s tallest mountain to his list of accomplishments after battling freezing conditions and difficult terrain at altitudes of more than 17,000ft (5,250m).
Geoff undertook the punishing cycling challenge alongside colleagues from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s charity partner Wickes. A 20-strong team set off from Shigatse, Tibet on September 14 and reached base camp on September 20. Together they raised over £40,000 for the charity’s life-saving research into better treatments and cures for all blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Geoff plans to take on the half-marathon with his wife, Julie, and will also be joined by current Doctors cast members Nicolas Woodman and Matt Chambers, and former castmates David Sturzaker and George Rainsford.
Geoff said: "It's been a fantastic year: reaching Everest Base Camp and helping Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research – and now the marathon. “It’s great to have the guys from Doctors on board. Doing events is vital for raising awareness of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and Birmingham is my adopted home city, so this one is going to be special.
“Julie and I did the London and New York marathons together a few years ago. I struggled and she left me behind in New York – which I’ve been reminded about! I might let her beat me again, we’ll see.”
Nicolas Woodman who plays Jack Hollins on the BBC soap said: “It is a great honour to run for the team and with such fantastic people, not just the celebrities but everyone who pulls on one of the famous yellow vests. It is a great feeling to be able to raise money and awareness of a charity that does such fantastic work. Finally the team comes to my home turf. I'm hoping for another PB this year and can't wait for the run.”
Blood cancer is the biggest cause of cancer related death in people aged 18-35, and since being diagnosed, Geoff’s goal is to help more patients access the latest treatments faster. Earlier this year Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research launched a unique network of independent clinical trial centres with access £50 million of new life-saving drugs which aims to speed up delivery of new treatments to blood cancer patients. Scientists in Birmingham will coordinate the 13 trials centres across the UK.
Kate White, Director of Fundraising at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “Wow, what an achievement for Geoff to take on the Birmingham Half Marathon just weeks after completing the Everest challenge! It’s great to have members of the Doctors cast on board with Geoff and every penny raised will mean more lives saved from blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.”