In July last year my world was rocked when my mum was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, it came as a real shock to me, my family and friends as she's always been so healthy and active! Nevertheless once she came to terms with the illness my mum saw it as a challenge that she would have to overcome, and so the mission to get mum better was on...
Mum was admitted into hospital and onto a course of treatment which involved mainly chemotherapy, she initially did 5 blocks of treatment lasting from July to December 2012. Unfortunately the chemotherapy wasn't effective so mum was offered the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial with a new drug Blinatumomab.
The trial carried with it some significant risks, mainly as the trial drug wasn't tried and tested. However my parents thought these were risks worth taking and with a lot of faith, a big helping of trust coupled with good luck my mum enrolled and signed up for the trial. Mum conducted 2 cycles of the treatment each of 6 weeks duration. By taking part in the trial she was able to undertake a lifestyle at home rather than in hospital albeit a little restricted, the trial drug was much less intrusive than chemotherapy. After both cycles my mother was considered to be in remission, it had worked much to our relief.
Visiting mum when she first went into hospital and wearing a gown gloves and mask to prevent infection
Still mum had to go through the process of a bone marrow transplant, as without it the cancer cells would just keep on coming back. Blinatumomab had got mum to the point where the cancer cells were under control and manageable, without access to the clinical trial the road for my mum would have been much more difficult and potentially fatal for her. This was great news for us all, however my mum still has a long way to go before she can say she had beaten the cancer.
This got me thinking, with that in my mind I decided that I wanted to raise money for the research and care of people with leukaemia. I wanted to do my bit so that more people could have access to new drugs or clinical trials. Currently only 6% of blood cancer patients have access to clinical trials which is a really low figure, for some patients like in my mum's case the clinical trial is sometimes the last option, if my mum wasn't in that 6% she might not be with us today.
My little brother (left) and me (right) with my mum at Christmas.
So I thought 'What could I do to raise money for charity?' Being a GB swimmer, swimming as always been a massive part of my life and my family's life, with my mum having a massive part to play in me getting to the position that I am in today. I thought it would be fitting if the event I organised was related to swimming. I have always had big dreams and love a challenge and with this I was no different, I thought and decided that I wanted to break a Guinness World Record (100 x 100 relay) in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma research.
My parents at Christmas.
The record attempt will take place on the 1st February 2014 at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. The challenge itself will involve a relay team of 100 different swimmers each swimming 100m so that's 4 lengths of your local pool if it's 25m. The record currently stands at 1 hour 53 mins and 13 seconds, which is an average of 67.2 seconds per swimmer, thats less than 18 seconds per length. To beat the record the team will need to average faster than 67.2, I believe that the team will be able to average faster than that. My current personal best stands at 50.71 seconds which is 16.5 seconds faster than the time we need to average.
The record attempting team will be made up of past and present GB international swimmers, past and present GB Olympians along with National standard club swimmers, swimmers from the City of Sheffield Swim Squad and other clubs around the country, along with people who are close to me in my life as I especially wanted the record to have a community feel to it and that of people coming together for a great cause. Within the team will be Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Medalists.
With your donations you will be helping to save the lives of patients with blood cancer and give them access to life saving clinical trials and new drugs, along with putting money into the research projects which help find and develop new drugs such as Blinatumomab. Without the clinical trial there's is a possibility that my mum wouldn't be with us today. I would like us to increase the amount of people who get access to clinical trials thus given them another chance. Let's help get that 6% higher in the hope that we can help save people's lives, we can make a difference.