ALMOST 10,000 women and children are preparing to run, jog or walk in Manchester’s flagship Race for Life event this weekend for Cancer Research UK.
The bumper fundraising weekend sees the city’s first Pretty Muddy Kids 5k obstacle course as well as a 5k, 10k and adults Pretty Muddy 5k.
Organisers hope to raise around £412,000 for Cancer Research UK’s vital work helping scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.
Many participants at the event at Heaton Park, in Prestwich, will have been affected by cancer themselves with others taking part in memory or celebration of a loved one.
On Saturday Cheetham Hill cancer survivor Talia Mazzucchetto, 20, who was treated for bone cancer as a teenager, will be special guest starter for Pretty Muddy and talk about her cancer treatment. While on Sunday Bury actress and former Hollyoaks star Jazz Franks and her mum Lesley, a bowel cancer survivor, will speak on stage and sound the starting hooter to send participants on their way.
Talia was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma – a type of tumour found in the bone and soft tissue – in Spring 2015 – aged 17. The diagnosis came around two years after she began to suffer arm pain in November 2013 while preparing for her GCSEs and followed numerous visits to hospital and her GP. In May 2015 a biopsy finally revealed she had cancer. She was treated with intensive chemotherapy and told she may need her arm amputating. She found dealing with the side-effects of chemo particularly difficult. As well as making her feel constantly sick and tired, the chemotherapy caused Talia to lose all of her long, dark hair.
After nearly five months of chemotherapy, doctors told Talia they had a chance of saving her arm. She had surgery at the end of October 2015 to remove a 15cm section of bone from her arm and to insert supportive metal pins. Talia then had more chemotherapy. She finished the active stage of her treatment in 2016 but continues to have regular check-ups and scans to monitor her situation.
She added: “I was a child when I started out on this journey. I was only 15 when I first started to have pain in my arm. Being diagnosed with cancer at 17 made me grow up far quicker than I would have done otherwise. It was the biggest scare of my life – it changed everything.
“Today, I’m 20 and I’m still recovering, but I’m so proud of myself for coming so far. All you can do when something like this happens to you is to be patient, have a lot of faith and believe in yourself.
“I’ve learned not to take a second of my life for granted and embrace all life throws at me. I’m so grateful to still be here and, although everything has changed, I’m a better person and I’m proud of the strong woman I’ve become.
“I’m determined to help others by raising money so Cancer Research UK can ensure even more men, women and children survive. So I’m urging women in Manchester to come together and unite at Race for Life because every participant can help make a real difference.”
Jazz Franks and mum Lesley are keen to highlight the crucial connection between taking part in Race for Life and helping save lives by funding work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Lesley was diagnosed with bowel cancer in Autumn 2011 and was successfully treated with intensive radiotherapy and surgery. She is has now been all-clear from cancer for 6 years. During Lesley’s treatment Jazz supported her all the way.
Every year, around 41,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West.
Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy, Half Marathon and Hiking events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer sooner by funding crucial research.
The Heaton Park event follows Race for Life weekends in Oldham, Stockport, Leigh, Wigan, Tatton Park and Warrington.
Professor Rob Bristow, Director of the Manchester Centre Research Centre, a partnership between Cancer Research UK, The Christie and The University of Manchester, who will speak about research happening in Manchester and thank participants at the event, said: “Crucial cancer research is being funded right now thanks to women running, jogging or walking at Race for Life.
“By signing up and taking part in Race for Life, women in Manchester can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.
“Money raised will help Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.”
Kirsti Thompson, Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Race for Life Event Manager, said: “Taking part in Race for Life is a special and unique experience – full of emotion, courage, tears and laughter.
“Whether they plan to race their way around the course or stroll to the finish line, every step participants take will help to beat cancer sooner.”
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend over £26 million last year in Manchester on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research – helping more men, women and children survive the disease.
To enter Race for Life Heaton Park today or another North West event, visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.