Lisa G.
Posted by

Running - My New Best Friend

Lisa G.
Posted by
30 Nov 2016

How running has helped me deal with my son's leukaemia diagnosis and how it is helping me raise funds for Bloodwise.

Well maybe not my best friend, that spot is already taken. But in recent months, running and I seem to have developed a bond, we have reached an understanding and an appreciation has grown. 

I have tried to take up running before. It's flexibility and low cost appealed to me. It seemed like a good idea, grab trainers and take to the open road, anytime, anywhere. Easy right? Well not so much on my first few attempts. Injury and a lack of willpower or motivation let me down and I just couldn't stick with it.

However, in July last year things changed. I was in the middle of another attempt, working my way towards our local 5k Race for Life, when my 2 year old son, Hugo, was diagnosed with cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia to be precise. My world stopped turning, everything changed in an instant.  

After 6 months of intensive treatment Hugo entered the final and less intensive phase. Our life was still far from removed from our pre-cancer one, but a little normality gradually started to creep back in and the fog that had surrounded us started to clear. There was a little more predictability that allowed us to look further ahead than just one day. 

I took up running again. I completed the Couch to 5k and then I kept going. I ran that Race for Life the following year with my eldest son, exactly a year to the day since Hugo's diagnosis. We ran it for Hugo and I ran with a strength and determination I simply didn't have before. Living with cancer has changed us, all of us, in one way or another.

This time running has given me space and some much needed distance from the worries and stresses of our strange new life. I still think about cancer as I run, of course I do, but somehow my thoughts seem more productive and less emotional. It allows me to gain some perspective when the walls seem to be closing in and the smallest of things seems overwhelming.

I write blog posts in my head and plan fundraising ideas and events. I focus on the things we as a family have to look forward to and all that we have to be thankful for. I am grateful for the escape it gives me, for the little bit of normality it brings to my life. It has given me a positive focus, it challenges me and it is something I have control over when I am frustratingly powerless in so many other areas of my life.

I now have a motivation, a reason to get out there in the first place, or to put my head down and keep going when it starts to get tough. I think of Hugo, of all that he has endured and all that he continues to endure. Of how amazingly brave he is and how unbelievably proud I am of him. I use the sadness and anger I feel at the unfairness of it all to keep my legs going. My fear of the unknown, of the 'what ifs', push me on when I want to give up. I think of the 11 families each day who hear the words 'your child has cancer'. Most of all I think of the 3 children who die from cancer every day. Who despite showing the strength of an elephant and the courage of a lion, are let down by the lack of progress made when it comes to fighting childhood cancer. 

Through my running and my Ambassador role with the charity Bloodwise, the fundraising project 'Team Hugo On the Move' has been born. Myself, friends and family will be travelling the remainder of Hugo's 'journey' with him over the next 2 years by taking part in events - running, cycling, skydiving - as long as there is movement involved, it's good! All money raised will go directly to fund research by Professor Enver at the University College London Cancer Centre. The study, which is supported by Bloodwise, will be looking at more effective and safer treatments for childhood leukaemia. It will also be investigating how leukaemia is caused and why some patients relapse.  Hugo has benefited from previous research and I am delighted that we are able to help make a real difference to children in the future. What better motivation can there be?

So, to lead by example, on Saturday I will be taking part in the first Team Hugo On the Move event and my first 10k race. I am nervous, but also excited and motivated. I have trained hard and I know I can do it. One thing Hugo's journey has shown me is that we are all stronger than we think we are.  

10k - I'm coming to get you!  Childhood Cancer - Team Hugo is coming to get you!

If you would like to sponsor Team Hugo On the Move, please visit

If you would like to read more about the research Bloodwise is doing into childhood leukaemia and other blood cancers, please visit

If you would like to read more on Hugo's journey, please visit



Hi Lisa,

After the initial shock of being diagnosed with CLL, I also decided to do the Couch to 5k plan. Found it a great way to motivate myself and keep my mind focused on other things. As a result my fitness improved dramatically and even if I don't run for a while, the fitness remains.

I really hope all your 'On the move' project is a great success. I've recently started rock climbing again, so maybe you could add some vertical climbing to one of movement based challenges?!

Anyway, good luck and I hope everything is a massive success!




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