Friends complete 100 miles of Norfolk paths to fight blood cancers

Sara Smith (left) and Judith Battersby. Sara Smith (left) and Judith Battersby.

Friday, May 9, 2014
7:10 PM

Two fund raising walkers from north Suffolk doubled their target when they completed over 100 miles to raise money for the fight against blood cancers.

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Sara Smith, 52 and her friend Judith Battersby, 49, from Mellis, participated in the Big Walk to Beat Blood Cancers along the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coastal Path over the Bank Holiday Weekend to raise £4,000 to help continue life-saving research into better treatments and cures for leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Mrs Smith’s son Will, 20, was diagnosed with leukeamia just before his 14th birthday, so the walk was particularly important to her.

He was initially diagnosed with tonsilitis after complaining of feeling unwell, but when the antibiotics he was given did not work, a doctor thought he may have glandular fever.

A subsequent blood test revealed his condition was much worse and he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 2007.

After intensive treatment, which included four months of chemotherapy, he went into remission, but relapsed in September 2008 and was re-admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

He then travelled to Bristol Children’s Hospital where he spent weeks in isolation following a transplant with bone marrow donated by his younger brother Henry, then aged 12.

During his treatment, he was taking 27 tablets a day, but he is now five years post transplant and has remained well ever since.

Mrs Smith said without the research that had been done, there was a strong chance Will would not have survived, which was the reason she decided to do the fund raiser.

She added: “They were incredibly quick. The treatment was stunning and it is getting better and better and better, so the more research that can be done, the more lives will be saved which is why we did the walk.”

The friends, who met through each other’s children, followed the route from May 1-5 that took in Sporle, North Pickenham, Great Bircham and Blakeney before finishing in Cromer.

“We set a target of £2,000, but we managed to double that. The weather was incredibly kind because we were prepared for rain, but we had sun all the way which was fantastic,” Mrs Smith added.

To support the pair’s appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/SaraandJudith-BigWalk.

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