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Man who shares same rare blood cancer with his brother takes on Great North Run

PUBLISHED: 12:54 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:08 22 August 2017

Keith Ambrose who was diagnoised with a rare blood cancer will be running Simplyhealth Great North Run. Picture: Keith Ambrose

Keith Ambrose who was diagnoised with a rare blood cancer will be running Simplyhealth Great North Run. Picture: Keith Ambrose

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A runner who suffers from the same rare blood cancer as his brother will be taking on the Simplyhealth Great North Run.

Keith Ambrose who was diagnoised with a rare blood cancer gets into training for Simplyhealth Great North Run. Picture: Keith Ambrose Keith Ambrose who was diagnoised with a rare blood cancer gets into training for Simplyhealth Great North Run. Picture: Keith Ambrose

In May 2016 Keith Ambrose from Diss was diagnosed with polycythaemia - which affects one in 100,000 people.

And not long after his younger brother Stewart was told he had the same disease, in what doctors have described as ‘just not possible’.

Mr Ambrose said: “Stewart has been struggling but he’s getting there.

“The fact I had the diagnosis which prompted him to be tested definitely saved his life too.”

Keith Ambrose who was diagnoised with a rare blood cancer shares the disease with his brother. Picture: Keith Ambrose Keith Ambrose who was diagnoised with a rare blood cancer shares the disease with his brother. Picture: Keith Ambrose

On Sunday September 10 Keith will be running his ninth Simplyhealth Great North Run - it will his first marathon since his diagnosis.

He said; “Before, I felt like superman. Now, I have no iron in my body at all and it has to stay that way.

“I can go so far then my body tells me ‘no’ and I have to stop, then walk a while and then I can go again.

“I used to be the bloke at the front waiting for everyone to finish, now I’m at the back.”

“I feel as good as I have felt for years, and I’m getting through it with the support of my running friends.

“I’m a positive guy. I want to keep sticking at it, and I am getting fitter each week.

“I love the Great North Run – the people are great.

“We’re making a weekend of it, the family will all come up and support me. The North East is a great place.”

Polycythaemia isn’t hereditary and is caused by a gene mutation, which causes bone marrow to produce too many red blood cells.

This makes the blood thicker and less able to travel through blood vessels and organs.

Keith’s blood was made up of more than 70% red blood cells, and he was told it was amazing that he hadn’t had a heart attack.

He said: “I had lots of different symptoms including itching skin after bathing, bloodshot eyes and awful headaches that just wouldn’t go away.

“It all happened so quickly.

“It was a lot to take in - one minute you’re a normal guy, next minute this happens.

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