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Family friend runs two half marathons to raise funds for Child Cancer Unit

The family friend of a former child cancer patient has laced up his trainers to run two half marathons in aid of the Unit who treated her.

Emily Franks was 14 years old when she was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, requiring twelve rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Staffordshire Children’s Hospital at Royal Stoke.

Paul Bentham from Cheddleton ran the Stafford Half and Potters ‘Arf mararthon raising over £1,600.

He said: “I’ve been a family friend of Emily for a number of years. I was amazed how well she was juggling her cancer treatment with the last couple of years of high school and all her exams.

“I’ve always ran off and on over the past few years and decided I wanted to enter the Stafford Half and Potter’s ‘Arf marathons to fundraise for UHNM Charity.

“I enjoyed the Stafford Half, but the Potter’s ‘Arf was a little bit more challenging given last year’s hot day! I was on a good time for the first five miles and on course for a personal best, but the heat kept intensifying and it was a case of backing off and just getting around.

“Everybody has got their own personal soties, be them family or friends, and if you can raise a bit of money for UHNM Charity doing what inspires you go ahead and do it. I’m planning to go one better and run the Manchester Marathon for UHNM Charity later this year.”

Emily, who’s now 21 and from Stone, was that impressed by the care given she’s now a fourth-year medical student at Keele University.

She said: “In January 2016 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I discovered a lump in my neck and attended Staffordshire Children’s Hospital at Royal Stoke for what I thought was a routine MRI scan to check me out, but it showed it was pretty much everywhere. I decided to have my treatment at Staffordshire Children’s Hospital as I liked the team here.

“I had six rounds of chemotherapy for that and was given the all clear, but a few months later I unfortunately had a relapse of the same thing and had another six rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant all under the team under Dr Kumar.

“Ever since that I’ve had an interest in studying medicine and now I’m a fourth-year medical student at Keele University. I do all my clinical placements here at UHNM across a number of departments including the children’s ward where I was a patient myself. Having being a patient here at the Children’s Hospital I feel I can relate to what parent’s are going through more when I speak to them and am able to offer more holistic advice. But I love coming on here, especially seeing the doctors and nurses that looked after me and now I’m on a ward round with them. My dream in the long-term is to specialise in paediatrics and come back here.

What Paul did was amazing and I never expected it. I knew he enjoys his running and I got a message one day to say what he was doing for UHNM Charity. It was fantastic news and I felt really privileged to be thought of.”

Emily was under the care of Dr Aswath Kumar, Consultant Paediatrician.

Dr Kumar said: “Emily is the most positive, forward-thinking young lady I’ve ever met in my 15-year career here. Her diagnosis was not as common as other cancers, but nothing has stopped her despite the quite aggressive nature of her illness. She did her GCSE’s whilst having a bone marrow transplant- many people don’t even get out of bed. But she did it and achieved the grades to get into University and we would love to welcome her here as a colleague.

“Fundraisers like Paul make a huge difference to the experience and care of children and young adults receiving chemotherapy on our Unit. Cancer is a nasty diagnosis, but what UHNM Charity provides helps make things that little bit easier for them.”

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