Giving cancer a run for your money

On Saturday Paddy Freeman’s Park and Jesmond Dene will be filled with people running, sprinting and walking to raise money in support of local blood cancer charity Bright Red. Those taking part in the Bright Red Freeman Fun Run, including a team of 10 from JesmondLocal, will cover a 5 km (3.1 mile) route.

Bright Red, which until 2010 was known as Marrow and Stem Cell Transport, has raised over £4 million since it was founded in 1988, with the majority of the money going to research into cancer and care for patients at Newcastle hospitals. Recently grants have been given to fund research into several forms of cancer, whilst the charity’s big hope for the future is to start a hotel for the families and friends of patients to stay in during a long hospital visit.

According to Delete Blood Cancer, a charity, a person is diagnosed with blood cancer in the UK every 18 minutes, and worldwide someone dies from blood cancer every 10 minutes. There are three main types of blood cancer – leukaemia, which causes the bone marrow to produce abnormal white cells, crowding out and reducing the production of normal cells, and lymphoma and myeloma, where the immune system is attacked, reducing the body’s ability to fight infections and produce antibodies.

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Claire Burn became an ambassador for Bright Red after she received treatment for a rare form of blood cancer. She says she supports the charity because of the excellent care they provided for her and for other patients she met:

“I was diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia in early 2012 and like many others had no idea of how many different types of blood cancer there are, or how many different treatments there are, all with their own side effects and long term implications, particularly for those who live far away from where they receive treatment. Bright Red is aiming to address some of these difficulties by funding research, helping find cheap overnight accommodation for partners and providing grants for transport costs.

“There is so much funding for the bigger cancer charities that is absolutely worthwhile and needed, but I would love to see a smaller, local charity that is trying to do so much, with so few people and so few resources benefit from extra funding.”

Ashley Elliott, the charity manager at Bright Red, says “the Bright Red Freeman Fun Run will be the largest participation event Bright Red has ever had. We’ve come a very long way and have been able to make significant grant awards within the region to help improve blood cancer treatment and care. We have recently bought a £250,000 Cytometer machine to improve research and provided £150,000 to create a three-year Bright Red Outreach Nurse post. These developments simply wouldn’t have been possible without people like Claire, who drive the charity forward at every opportunity. The Freeman Fun Run will be a very special event and I’m really looking forward to taking part.”

The Freeman Fun Run will start at 10am on Saturday from Paddy Freeman’s Park. Whilst registration is now closed, spectators are welcome to cheer the runners on.

Bright Red will be holding more fundraising events in the future, including a bike ride planned for July 7th going from Seahouses to Newcastle Quayside and a spinning event at Eldon Leisure planned for June 12th, during World Blood Week. More information can be found at http://www.brightred.org.uk and www.brightredbikeride.com

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