12th April 2024

Amy’s London Marathon Story

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“I grew up in Birmingham – pretty urban, but my family was quite outdoorsy and from childhood, we would go walking in the Lake District and skiing.  This left me with a passion for the outdoors and I love hiking and running.  

“After a spell at University studying Music and Music in the Community and then living abroad for a time, I became a teacher. I’m now Director of Music at a secondary school in Guildford.  

“Being a musician, I enjoy conducting choirs and singing and I play the piano, too. My husband is an ecologist, so the outdoorsy nature of our lifestyle has continued. With young children, we love having the Surrey Hills on our doorstep.”

A chance lung cancer diagnosis then changed Amy’s life…

“Mum was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017.

“She hadn’t been well and had an operation to remove a gallstone and sort out a blocked bile duct – unrelated to her lungs. Just before being discharged, she was given a final CT scan and by coincidence, this scan was seen by a lung consultant.  

“He spotted several small nodules on her lungs and they decided to monitor them with regular scans.  Life went on, until six months later, my mum went for a scan and found that one of the nodules had grown into a malignant tumour.

“She had no symptoms at all – no pain, no breathlessness, nothing.  She was actually hiking in the Lake District when she got a call to see the lung consultant following her scan.

“She had surgery to remove the bottom section of one lung which contained the tumour – a partial lower lobectomy.

“After her first surgery, my mum continued to have 6-monthly scans. Three years later, in 2020, another nodule showed significant growth and another malignant tumour was successfully removed.

“My mum was amazingly pragmatic about her diagnosis and was very matter-of-fact about her second surgery. I remember her saying ‘they’ll just take it out and it’ll be fine’. She’s an optimist, but both diagnoses were a surprise – as a non-smoker, she hadn’t considered that lung cancer is indiscriminate and can affect anyone.  

“She feels very grateful for the NHS, the skills of her surgeon, and for the proactive lung consultant whose chance observation led to her early diagnosis and two successful procedures.

“Mum is doing great. She still has annual scans and for the last 3 ½ years these have shown to be clear of cancer.  She lives a really active lifestyle and hasn’t looked back – she’s always running around after her grandchildren, she’s just back from a ski holiday and is planning her next trip to the Lake District to do some hiking!”

Taking on the London Marathon

“I wanted to run for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation because of my mum, and because we both feel that raising awareness is so important.

“This is my first marathon. Training was initially enjoyable and I have definitely enjoyed the endorphins of the running! Being a teacher, training over the winter months when it was dark was particularly hard, because I was at school working during daylight hours!   

“My husband has been really supportive, especially as the runs have got longer and I’ve disappeared for three-hour stints at the weekend…”

We also have a WhatsApp group of all the Roy’s Runners for London 2024 and the group has been incredibly supportive and positive – it’s very humbling to be a part of the team. (in quotes)

“I’m excited and petrified that it’s nearly here after so many months of training and planning! I’m a little nervous about getting past the 32km mark (the furthest I’ve run!) but I’ve heard that the support of the crowd is amazing and I’m sure adrenaline and grit will get me through! I think the whole thing will be quite emotional.

“If I manage 4 ½ hours I’ll be over the moon. Less than 5 hours would be nice, but actually, I’ll just be happy to get around the course and enjoy myself now!

“Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is doing wonderful things about supporting those with a diagnosis of lung cancer, but also raising awareness and challenging misconceptions about lung cancer.  My mum is still here because of early detection, and I hope that this can be the same for everyone.”

Donate to Amy’s fundraiser here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/amy-ward