Brian and Izzy
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Our journey with Bloodwise

Brian and Izzy
Posted by
25 Jul 2017

In Izzy's words, an updated version of our family's involvement with Bloodwise over the years.

The charity Bloodwise (nee The Leukaemia Research Fund / Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research) has been an integral part of my life since I was seven years old and, needless to say, is a cause that is incredibly close to my heart. For those of you who don't know, this is why:

My brother Jamie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 1998 when he was just 8 years old and I was 6. Although he fought incredibly bravely, the variant of the cancer he had was extremely resistant and none of the treatments then available were able to get him into a stable remission. When it became clear that the "standard" medical treatments on offer were not working, my parents did everything they could to find alternative options and it is this search that led them to Bloodwise, or The Leukaemia Research Fund as it was then called. By early summer 1999, however, it was clear that our options had run out. One of Jamie's friends discovered that the Leukaemia Research Fund was holding a sponsored bikeathon in Battersea Park and a team of Jamie's friends, teachers and family all got involved cycling and raising money for the charity. The most surprising, and frankly inspirational, moment was when Jamie (who at this point was very weak and in a wheelchair) got up out of his chair, kicked his friend Tom off his bike and determinedly cycled several laps of the course - in true Jamie-style he would not miss out on the fun.

Just two weeks later on 27 June 1999 Jamie died. Words cannot describe how hard losing Jamie was, at seven years old my whole world fell apart. As brother and sister growing up we had always been incredibly close, but more than that he was my best friend, my partner in crime, my protector, teacher and hero. He was the kind of brother who would take the blame when I had been naughty, deliberately let me win games even though he was always better than me at them, wake me up to sneak downstairs and watch power rangers at the weekend, share everything, put on "concerts" in the living room with me, and never fail to make me laugh. Even when he was extremely ill I can’t remember him ever complaining and he was still looking out for me and putting me first.

Coming to terms with what happened has never been easy, but my parents' mantra has always been to try and do anything and everything possible to ensure that other families don't have to go through what we did in future. The Leukaemia Research Fund has always been focused primarily on funding research and finding a cure for blood cancers and my parents decided that this was the charity they wished to focus on going forwards. In 2000, we organised a concert at the Royal Opera House in which BYS, the youth orchestra Jamie and I were a part of, played. The concert raised over £80,000 and following its success, we organised another one in 2005 held at St John's Smith Square. We were interviewed on the news in the lead up to both - I remember being far more excited about the food in the green room and the swivelly chairs than being on TV - and yes, there is highly entertaining footage of awkward-pre-teen-and-teenage-Izzy being interviewed floating around the web somewhere…!

As time went on we became ever more involved with the charity, my Mum began volunteering at head office and I would go along with her in the school holidays to "help". Being so young I'm sure I was actually more of a hindrance than a help to begin with and I was restricted to making coffee and stuffing envelopes for a while but everyone at the charity was lovely and as I got older I was able to do more useful things! I loved going in and volunteered every school holidays when I had the chance. Mum went on to become Finance Director of the charity for several years and we still regularly volunteer at, and attend, various events. I even got to appear on Blue Peter (dream come true) when they launched the Blue Peter Bikeathons in collaboration with the charity.

Participating in the London Bikeathon has become somewhat of a tradition, as we have taken part every year since 1999 so I'd like to take a moment to thank those reading who have been involved with the journey from the start – we know how sick you must be of sponsorship requests by now and honestly really appreciate your patience and continued support!

The reason we continue to fundraise and support the charity (and hound you all for sponsorship), however, is simple: over the years we have been able to see first-hand what a genuine difference Bloodwise makes, both through the ground-breaking research and trials it funds and the support and hope it gives to patients and their families. The progress that has been made is incredible but there is still a long way to go. As the tag-line of the charity states, we won't stop until we've beaten blood cancer.

So please donate if you can, this year we're taking on twice the challenge as we are not only taking part in the London Bikeathon but the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 46 mile event as well for the first time (sadly, or not sadly for our legs sake, we missed out on spaces in the 100 mile event!).  

 

Comments

05.08.2017

Izzy, thanks, so so much for your moving blog, Jamie sounds a very special, inspirational brother and also so many thanks for all your continued fundraising.