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Race for Life: We're going to walk, wiggle and giggle round the course

More than 5,000 women of all ages, many dressed in fancy dress, will be descending on the city's Victoria Park for tomorrow's Race for Life event. Almost all those taking part have a very personal reason for entering the event – but they all have one aim – to raise cash for Cancer Research UK. Health correspondent Cathy Buss talked to a few of the runners to learn their touching reasons for taking part in the hugely-popular event.

A grandmother who is battling advanced cancer is set to take part in Race for Life in a show of solidarity with her daughter, granddaughter and more than 5,000 other women.

Linda Wells, 51, from Earl Shilton, is joining more than 40 women and girls who make up The Wild Crew – a team formed by her daughter, Debbie Gardner, and eight-year-old grand-daughter, Evie.

Debbie, from Hinckley, has already raised £500 and hopes the team will raise another £4,000 in sponsorship by taking part in the 5k race in the city's Victoria Park.

Immediately after the event, Debbie, a mum of two, has organised a pamper party for team members to raise even more funds and there are plans to stage a Zumbathon in honour of her mum next Saturday.

The 31-year-old said: "You feel so helpless when someone close is going through cancer and I felt I wanted to do everything in my power to make a difference.

"I wanted to do something positive to focus on and I posted what I wanted to do on Facebook and so many people came forward I thought we would just go for it.

"We are doing the 10k event and, rather than racing, we have decided to walk, wiggle and giggle round the course."

Her mother, Linda, who also suffers from Crohn's disease, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April last year.

She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy and thought she was fine until a blood test for Crohn's disease revealed the cancer had returned in her liver.

She said: "At this stage there are no operations I can have. It is just a case of keeping it under control. But I haven't given up.

"I am a fighter, I've always been a fighter and I always bounce back."

Despite still having chemotherapy, Linda, who has two children and four grandchildren, is continuing work as a carer at Limes Day Centre for the elderly in Hinckley.

She said: "Working is my way of dealing with it. I am not going to sit at home and nurse this when I can still get out.

"And if I can help other people by doing Race for Life, then that's what I'll do."

Katie Martin, Cancer Research UK's Leicestershire events manager, said: "Like so many people who take part in Race for Life against the odds, Linda is a true inspiration.

"We are thrilled she and her team will be able to join us on Sunday for what will be an emotional but amazing event.

"Participants may be decked out in pink or fancy dress but what is inescapable is the power and strength that comes from thousands of women joining together to confront cancer."

Christine's story: How 64-year-old battled against disease Christine Smith will be there in spirit with the women and girls taking part in this year's event. She had hoped to take part, but her battle against a third bout of cancer has taken its toll on her health. The 64-year-old has also lost one of her brothers and one of her sisters to the disease. Christine, from Hinckley, said: "I have always supported Cancer Research UK and the Race for Life. "I know first-hand just how important it is to raise money for research into cancer." She was first diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 1993. Christine said: "Food kept getting stuck and my doctor just kept giving me Gaviscon. "It was only when I changed GPs that the cancer was discovered and I had to have a big operation at Leicester General hospital to have it removed. "I didn't have to have further treatment such as chemo or radiotherapy." In 2009, and just seven weeks after her husband died, Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to have a mastectomy followed by both radio and chemotherapy. Christine said: "It was about the same time that I lost both my sister, who was 63, to cancer and my brother, who was 68, to prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones. "It was then that we were offered genetic testing and it was discovered that between myself, my three brothers and three sisters, four of us had the Brca gene, which makes hereditary cancer more likely." Christine decided to have her other breast removed to try to reduce the risk of cancer. However, just a few days before she was due to have surgery, she was told the oesophageal cancer had returned. That was in 2011, and she has recently finished a course of treatment. Christine said: "The diagnosis was such a shock. I couldn't have more surgery. But the treatment I have had has left me with collapsed vertebrae. "It means I can't go ahead with the planned mastectomy, I just couldn't go through more major surgery at the moment. "I would like to have done the Race for Life this year – I have done it twice before – but, unfortunately, I just do not feel able to do it at the moment." But Christine will be willing on the women taking part in Victoria Park on Sunday and at the Race for Life event in Loughborough next month. She said: "I know just how important it is to raise money for a charity like Cancer Research UK."
Amaryllis's story: Mum-of-two begins radiotherapy treatment on Monday Mum-of-two Amaryllis Aitken is limbering up to lead Team Amy, made up of more than 70 women and girls, in tomorrow's race. The following day, the 38-year-old will begin radiotherapy treatment for sarcoma. The rare cancer was diagnosed in November last year, the day of Amaryllis' birthday. She said: "I first noticed a lump on my leg, sort of walnut sized, after a box fit class and thought I had pulled a muscle. "My GP thought the same, but said to go back if it didn't disappear. I went back six months later because it hadn't and, in November, sarcoma was diagnosed. It had also spread to my lungs. It was a very big shock, there is no history of cancer in my family." Amaryllis, from Kibworth, had chemotherapy, followed by an operation to remove the sarcoma. She said: "I feel fine at the moment, although I do get more tired than I used to. I told my close friends that I was going to do Race for Life and then I put it on Facebook and people just kept joining in. Now there are about 72 of us. "Sunday is going to be fantastic. I am so proud of everyone for their support and help. "When I booked a taxi through M & E Taxi, in Kibworth, I was told there wouldn't be a charge. "It is an amazing and it is a very humbling experience." Amaryllis's two daughters, Daisy 16 and three-year-old Scarlett, are among team members. Team Amy is also hoping to raise £3,000 or more for Cancer Research UK, which organises the race. Amaryllis said: "We have raised about £2,800, so I am sure we will get well over the £3,000 mark." Also joining the team is one of her lifelong friends, Shora Montgomerie. Shora, a GP from Market Harborough, said: "I did the Race for Life a couple of years ago, but this year it seems that there is much more relevance to it. "As a GP I have patients affected by cancer and, of course, know how important research is. But, Amy is the first of my friends and peer group to be directly affected by cancer. "We have been friends since we were babies and we went to school together. "When Amy shared her journey on Facebook so many friends from long ago saw it and wanted to be part of the team. There will be family and friends, children, mothers and grandmothers taking part and we will be walking the 5k route."
Don't miss our comprehensive coverage of the race Read more about the heartbreaking decision one Race for Life runner had to make in today's More magazine in the Leicester Mercury. In Monday's paper there will be full coverage of the Race for Life with a selection of pictures. We will also be producing a picture special inside Tuesday's Mercury capturing memorable moments from the event. Tweet us your pictures and Race for Life stories using the hashtag: #Race4LifeLeics We are also running a three-for-two offer on 10x8 prints from the Race For Life. For details, visit: thisisphotosales.co.uk/leicestershire

Race for Life: We're going   to walk, wiggle and giggle round the course

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