The vast majority of families across the world will find themselves in the uncompromising situation in their lifetime where a loved one will sadly be affected by a form of cancer. But unlike many, Dr. Eki Sangha found herself in the heart-rending position where both her brother and her father were diagnosed with leukaemia.
This Sunday, 38-year-old Eki from Harborne will run 13.1miles in the Bupa Great Birmingham Run for Cure Leukaemia, in loving memory of her brother who sadly passed away but also to celebrate the success of her father who is now in remission for the second time following his very own battle.
In 1973, aged just 18 months, Eki’s brother Upi Sangha tragically lost his life just hours after being brought to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital following a brain heamorrhage. This was secondary to him having Acute Leukaemia that was sadly undiagnosed at the time. A painful number of years passed for the family when in December 1996, 24 years after the death of Upi, Eki’s father Kuldip Sangha, who had worked for Cadbury’s in Bournville for many years, found himself feeling tired and short of breath. After a visit to his local GP surgery and undergoing some routine blood tests, Kuldip was admitted to the haematology ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for a blood transfusion. A bone marrow biopsy followed which confirmed he had LGL leukaemia, a very rare type of leukaemia that his Doctor at the time said was only the second patient he had ever seen with this form of cancer.
Kuldip was treated with a chemotherapy tablet called Cyclophosphamide which he took for a total of nine months and his leukaemia was in remission for 16 years. He remained under regular follow-up sessions with his Doctor until he started to become tired and short of breath once again and the terrible news came in October 2013 when Kuldip was told that his leukaemia had relapsed. Following more treatment and returning to the same form of chemotherapy that worked for him 16 years earlier, Kuldip thankfully appears to be back in remission once again.
By running the 13.1 mile course which takes in some of the city's most iconic sights including Eki’s father’s former place of work Cadbury’s, she is keen to raise as much money as possible for Cure Leukaemia.
Every morning Eki drives past the haematology clinic at the QE as it is just a stone’s throw from her very own workplace, Birmingham Women’s Hospital, where she works as a Specialist Doctor in Gynaecology.
She said, “Sadly I never met my brother as he died before I was born but his passing away was obviously a traumatic time for my parents and I would hate any parent to go through what mine did. My father’s treatment on the other hand is a success story and is something that I am ever so grateful for.
I cannot thank the Doctors and nurses enough, most notably Dr. Murray who has been wonderful throughout the care that my father has received.
In 1973 the survival rate for leukaemia was a long way off what it is now and that is thanks to the work being done by charities such as Cure Leukaemia right here in Birmingham. The money raised by Cure Leukaemia and the University of Birmingham in the Bupa Great Birmingham Run will help to increase awareness of the illness and support advances in treatment so that patients and their families can expect a better quality of life and care.
I have previously taken part in 5k and 10k runs for Cure Leukaemia but never ran a half marathon so please show your support this weekend!”
Chief Executive of Cure Leukaemia, James McLaughlin said, “We are delighted to have Dr Eki Sangha running for Team Cure Leukaemia this year and her story is one that will inspire many others to support the work of this great charity.
Treatment for blood cancer continues to progress right here in Birmingham.
41 years ago Eki sadly lost her brother to this terrible disease but in a similar time frame moving forward, Cure Leukaemia and the University of Birmingham, two leading forces in research and treatment of leukaemia, will join together in the ‘Birmingham. Let’s cure leukaemia’ campaign which aims to help Birmingham find a cure for leukaemia in the next 30 years.”