With just days to go until Race for Life returns to The Stray for a bumper weekend of events, one Harrogate pupil is calling on other women and girls across the district to join her in the fight against the disease.
Annie Coyne, 18, will be guest of honour at the 5k Race for Life event in Harrogate and she’s determined to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
The pupil at St Aidan’s Sixth Form is encouraging women of all ages and abilities to follow her lead and sign up to one of the Race for Life events taking place across the weekend of Saturday 14 July or Sunday 15 July.
The Race for Life 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and the new Pretty Muddy Kids events come to The Stray this year after being held for two years at Ripley Castle.
Entry closes on Friday 13 July, but you can sign up now at raceforlife.org.
Annie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer that starts from white blood cells in the bone marrow, in September 2016.
Last year, just two days after leaving hospital, the brave teenager took part in Race for Life with her mum, grandma and best friend, despite struggling with severe pain in her legs and back which restricts her mobility.
Despite her own diagnosis and treatment she is determined to help others and as well as backing this year’s Race for Life, Annie has raised nearly £10,000 for cancer charities and has her sights set on becoming a paediatric nurse on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward at Leeds General Infirmary, so that she can help other children going through treatment.
Annie was diagnosed with cancer after going to A&E at Harrogate District Hospital suffering with severe back pain, something her and her mum Helen thought was a pulled muscle.
Later that night a blood test was taken and early in the morning concerns were raised that it was something much more severe than back ache.
Annie said: “When the doctor came to see me with the initial results I just had a feeling it was going to be bad and didn’t want my mum to have to hear it, so I sent her out. When they told me it was something much worse I just broke down and kept repeating ‘just please don’t let it be cancer’.”
The next morning the results, showing that Annie had a type of leukaemia, were confirmed by another doctor and she was sent straight to Leeds General Infirmary and admitted to the children’s cancer ward. She was there for the next 42 days.
Annie began intensive chemotherapy immediately and during the first few weeks suffered a number of side effects and setbacks including a blood clot on her brain, which led to her having numerous seizures and a stroke.
An MRI scan also revealed that Annie has aculta spina bifida, gaps in the vertebra, and also suffers from osteonecrosis in her legs and ankles, a condition that occurs when there is loss of blood to the bone causing the bone to die, which causes significant pain and results in problems walking meaning she sometimes has to rely on crutches or a wheelchair.
Before diagnosis Annie had just joined St Aidan’s Sixth form to start her A-Levels, but took a year out to have treatment. She re-joined in September 2017 after a break of 1 year and 4 months and had to start in the year below her age group to catch up.
It was really nerve-racking going back to school. I had to make new friends and struggled with being known as the girl with cancer. Keeping up with my work has also been harder due to ‘chemo brain’ which means I struggle a lot with my short term memory as well as struggling to form words and the speed of my writing, which could be because of my stroke.
Cancer is really scary for anyone especially for my age group so when people found out I had cancer it made it even harder to make friends. That’s why the family I have formed on the cancer ward in Leeds has been even more important. They know exactly what I’m going through and can support me. I’m determined to keep up with school work and do well in my A-Levels so I can be a nurse, but it is hard.
Annie is still undergoing maintenance chemotherapy which keeps her system clear of the disease and will complete this in December 2018, over two years since her diagnosis.
Every year, around 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in England, including around 500 young people are diagnosed with ALL.
Cancer Research UK is working to fund research to find new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people diagnosed with cancer. It aims to bring forward the day when no young person dies of the disease, and ensure that those who survive, do so with a good quality of life.
Thanks to research, I’m around to share more precious moments with my family and take part in events like Race for Life. I’m determined to help others by supporting Cancer Research UK to help even more men, women and children survive.
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding research.
Emma Colbourne, Cancer Research UK’s Harrogate Events Manager, said:
Cancer research is being funded thanks to girls, just like Annie, walking, running or jogging their way around Race for Life.
Money raised at Race for Life helps Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
To enter Race for Life visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.
Race for Life events in North Yorkshire
Saturday 14 July 2018
Harrogate Pretty Muddy
Harrogate Pretty Muddy Kids
Sunday 15 July 2018
Saturday 15 September 2018
York Pretty Muddy
York Pretty Muddy Kids
Sunday 16 September 2018