A Hartlepool woman - who lost her mum to cancer - has urged others to join the fight against the disease.
Sam West, 29, issued the rallying call as she prepared once again to tackle the town’s Race for Life in memory of her mum Kath Brown.
Sam and Kath ran the race for the first time in June 2013 after Kath’s diagnosis with lung cancer.
But just two months later, Kath succumbed to the disease which had spread to her adrenal gland and brain. She was just 49 years old.
Mum-of-two Sam said: “That was the first and only time my mum had done Race for Life and it was such a moving day. She was determined to take part and we pushed her round in a wheelchair, but she got out and walked across the finish line. It was a really emotional moment for us all.
“Despite receiving intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy the cancer had spread to her brain and there was nothing that could be done. She was such a trooper and really keen for us to take part so the year following her death we all signed up again and had special T-shirts made with her picture on.”
That was the first and only time my mum had done Race for Life and it was such a moving day. She was determined to take part and we pushed her round in a wheelchair, but she got out and walked across the finish line. It was a really emotional moment for us allSam West
Sam and her gang of supporters now take part every year in Kath’s memory and this year is no exception, with friends and family of all ages, including her granddaughters Lexi, 5, and Leonie, 8, planning to Race for Life side by side on Sunday, July 2.
She added: “Mum made us all do it, so it’s important that we turn up again. She was such a determined person and even during her treatment she showed just how strong she was by being there when I gave birth to my first son and immediately after going to have a round of radiotherapy.
“Events like this are so important to funding more research to try and beat this disease which took our mum away from us. I really hope Hartlepool turns out in force to take part and cheer the runners on.”
Every day, around 43 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North East.
Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson, said: “Life-saving research is being funded right now thanks to the women of Hartlepool running, jogging or walking at Race for Life.
“Our participants play a crucial role in helping to turn discoveries made in the lab into better treatments for patients and we rely on their incredible commitment to the cause.
“Race for Life isn’t about being the fittest, fastest or first over the finish line. We need women of all ages and abilities to sign up.
“It’s the taking part that counts whatever women raise. Just £10 could make a difference in the fight against cancer.”
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Marathon events which raise millions of pounds every year to find new ways to tackle cancer.
Money raised through Race for Life helps to make long-term research and pioneering trials possible, leading to new tests, kinder treatments and cures, which could save more lives.
Lisa added: “Just like Sam, most of us know someone whose life has been affected by cancer. By taking part in Race for Life, women in Hartlepool could help more men, women and children to survive the disease.
“Our aim is that one day everyone will beat cancer. The more women who Race for Life – the sooner that day will come.”
Sign up for Race for Life at raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.