Running the Bedford half marathon at 9am - rehearsing for a London opera at 3pm.
That’s the unique way in which Emily Groom will be spending the first day of Blood Cancer Awareness Month this year as she fundraises for Cure Leukaemia in memory of her Dad.
Andrew Jones was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) in June of last year, undergoing intensive chemotherapy and clinical trials before a bone marrow transplant last October.
Unfortunately, the father-of-four, who worked for the BBC, passed away in March of this year at the age of 57.
“We have never had any issues with health in our family, I guess you never expect these things to happen to you,” says 28-year-old Emily.
“It turned life upside down.
“Dad was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and the care that he received from everyone, as well as what they did for us as a family, was amazing.
“We are so grateful to organisations like Cure Leukaemia for all the work that they do in trying to prolong and save the lives of those with this horrible disease.
“It was a rollercoaster that none of us wanted to be on, but Dad powered through it like a hero and still managed to support us through it too.
“We grew up in Worcestershire, and I have a brother and two sisters dotted around the country - if there is one positive to take, it is that we were able to spend some time as a family.
“Dad was in hospital for a good few months and we all made the most of our time together.”
Having seen at first hand the work of the staff at the Centre for Clinical Haematology, Emily was empowered to try and give something back by taking on some fundraising for Cure Leukaemia.
‘Emily is not one for rapid or enthusiastic movement’, wrote her first ever school headteacher in her Year Three report.
You wouldn’t perhaps then be expecting her to be taking on the Bedford Half Marathon on Sunday, September 1st.
“Those words from my report have haunted me well into my adult life and it’s fair to say I’m not the most sporty,” says Emily.
“But I really wanted to try and give something back.
“Everyone copes in different ways don’t they? For me, something practical was to train for a half marathon.
“My husband, also called Andrew, is more of a keen runner and he is also going to do the event with me, and training has been going well so far – I am up to 15km.
“My brother is a canoeist for Team GB, so he is way more sporty, and I am sure he and my sisters will try to be there to cheer me on.
“We have an amazing family and friends who were a big help to us during Dad’s illness, praying with us and supporting us in so many ways.
“Our Christian faith also helped us keep perspective of what was going on and grounded us in the knowledge that death was not the end for Dad, or any of us in fact.
“I didn’t realise until I entered the race that it is on the first day of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, which is a really good focus for all the different events to support Cure Leukaemia.”
Emily will also have far more on her plate than most of the other runners taking to the start line at Priory Country Park, as she explains.
“I am a violinist with the Southbank Sinfonia orchestra, and we are playing at a couple of operas in August and September,” says Emily, who also teaches music.
“And so after the half marathon, I need to head straight to London for a dress rehearsal of Rossini’s La Cenerentola.
“The rehearsal starts at 3pm, so hopefully I’ll have completed the half marathon in good time to make sure I can get to London.
“It could be quite a day!”
*To support Emily as she aims for a fundraising target of £1,000, please click here to make a donation.
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