Mum’s the word in cancer fight

Ben Davidson, 11 and his brother, Dylan ,9, are taking part in the BUPA run in support of their mother Nicola. Picture Ian Rutherford
Ben Davidson, 11 and his brother, Dylan ,9, are taking part in the BUPA run in support of their mother Nicola. Picture Ian Rutherford
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AS they line-up at the start of the 2.5k Bupa Junior Great Edinburgh Run, the Davidson brothers will not need to look far for inspiration.

They have more reason than most to want to show their support to this year’s official charity, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Earlier this year, 11-year-old Ben and nine-year-old Dylan found out their mother Nicola was suffering from leukaemia and faced months of gruelling treatment.

With mum now on the road to recovery, the brothers, who live in Trinity and attend Stewart Melville’s, say they want to give something back to the charity which has helped them so much.

Ben told the Evening News: “Mum wasn’t well for a long time, and it’s been very hard but she’s feeling better now. We’re all really glad and when we heard about the run we really wanted to do it, so we got our dad to sign us up.”

Dylan added: “I’m very proud of my mum, she’s been through a lot and we want to help as much as possible.”

Dad Stuart, 40, who is head of management reporting at an investment firm and has played cricket for Scotland, explained: “It all started back in March. Nicola had already been to the doctors once and they said she had flu, but it just didn’t seem like that to us.

“She wasn’t herself. She’s always been a very driven person, and she’d actually started sleeping on the couch because she was too tired to make it up the stairs. I told her to go back to the doctors and make sure she got a blood test this time. She had to insist upon it – they just kept saying she had flu and to come back in a week if she wasn’t better.

“That same night, we got a call from the out-of-hours service at the Western General saying she had to come in immediately.

“Even when we were in the hospital, the thought of cancer or leukaemia didn’t enter my head. I thought she maybe had a virus or something. We were speaking to a doctor and all of a sudden Nicola just asked her straight out: ‘Is it cancer?’ I remember turning to look at her, thinking: ‘Don’t be so dramatic’. Then the doctor just said: ‘Yes, we think it is’.

“We were both absolutely knocked for six. It’s frightening to think about – if it had gone on longer who knows what could have happened. Her white blood cell count was through the roof and her bone marrow had actually started to clog up.”

Nicola was admitted that night and began her first round of high dose chemotherapy the next day.

The 41-year-old, who hopes to soon return to her job as a business analyst at Bright Grey, said: “It was so shocking, like the kind of thing you see on TV, but you never think it will happen to you. I was in the Western General for about six weeks. Then I was released for a while to gain my strength, then I had to go in for a second bout of chemo. After that and a bit more time to recover, it was over to Glasgow for a bone marrow transplant. It’s horrible finally feeling better and knowing you have to go back in and how awful it will make you feel, but there was nothing else for it.

“It was Stuart who had to tell Ben and Dylan what was happening the morning after I was admitted and field the questions. We decided it was best to be as honest as possible with them. They’re old enough to know that this is a serious illness and they would only have worried more if they felt they were being kept in the dark.”

Stuart, who describes breaking the news to the boys as “one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do”, added: “They have had a lot of questions as the process has gone on, but we speak about things regularly. Nothing has been hidden, we just don’t feel that that’s the way to do it.

“They’re very excited about doing the run. They wanted to give something back, and Nicola and I are very, very proud of them.”

Nicola continued: “They’re both already pretty active, so I don’t think the run should be too much of a problem for them. Ben plays cricket and rugby. He’s on both the teams at school. Dylan is more into break-dancing and playing his electric guitar – they’re busy boys! I don’t think they’ll run together though – Ben’s massively competitive so I imagine he’ll be trying to stay ahead.

“I’m very pleased, it’s such a good cause. Someone in the same condition as me even as recently as ten or 20 years ago would have had a very different prognosis. Without the money raised that has gone towards treatment research, I could have been in a very different position.”

Ben, who denies being competitive though admits he is aiming to finish “near the front”, said: “We’re aiming to raise £220 and we’ve raised £100 so far. I’ve been running round the block to help get myself ready. Dylan sprained his ankle recently so he might not be able to actually run the course, but he is determined he will get round it, even if he has to walk. But hopefully he’ll be better by then.”

Dylan, who confirms his ankle is “okay”, despite him having managed to hurt it again by getting too energetic in the playground earlier in the day, said: “I don’t care what position I come, just as long as I finish.”

If you would like to help Ben and Dylan raise money, visit www.justgiving.com/ben-and-dylan-davidson.

REMEMBERING ALLY

VIKKI Bertram will be taking part in the 10K section of the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run in honour of a close friend who died in Afghanistan.

The money she raises will go to the Alec Lucas Memorial Trust, which raises funds and provides financial assistance for the families of Royal Marines who have been killed or wounded on operational duty.

In 2008, Alec, below, or Ally to his friends, was killed by a landmine a few weeks into his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was 24.

Vikki, 26, who lives in Portobello, says: “I met Ally about ten years ago. He had moved up from England with his family and started playing football with the boys I’d been at school with. Me and the girls would watch them play and then we’d all go to the pub afterwards.

“We’d all known each other for years and were a really close-knit group, but Ally fitted in great almost immediately. He was a bit of a joker and he got on with everyone. I don’t think I ever saw him angry.

“After we’d known him for a few years he decided he wanted to join the Royal Marines. We wouldn’t hear much from him while he was away on tours, but we would always catch up again when he came back.

“He got engaged to a girl from Peebles called Jill. They had a baby and although he loved what he did, he had started to think about leaving the army. He wanted to spend more time with his family. It was awful when we heard what had happened.”

Alec’s parents now organise a fundraising event every year in memory of their son.

Vikki, above, who works as a marketing consultant, adds: “At the memorial day the boys have a charity football match and I wanted to do something, too. I did the Race for Life a few years ago, so I thought the 10K would be a good way to honour Ally’s memory and challenge myself.

“I think it says a lot about the kind of person Ally was that four years on so many people still make the effort to attend the memorial day. His parents do a fantastic job of organising it and everyone in Peebles helps out. People travel from all over to be there, including the Marines he served with.”

A report into Ally’s death revealed that four other men in V Company, 45 Commando ran across open ground under heavy fire to retrieve him after the explosion which claimed his life. The team, who were being shot at from four different enemy positions, even stopped at one point to administer heart massage to their wounded colleague. Ally was evacuated to a helicopter landing site and flown to hospital at Camp Bastion but was pronounced dead during the flight.

The Bupa Great Edinburgh run takes place on Sunday, October 7 and Vikki is hoping to raise £500 for the

trust.

If you would like to sponsor her, please visit www.aleclucas memorialtrust.co.uk/bupa-run-2012.html

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

FORMER Olympic runner Andy Graffin, a training co-ordinator for the Great Run series, shares tips for those preparing to run.

“Hopefully all the participants will have been training regularly for a while already – you can’t prepare for a run like this in a fortnight

“By this stage, they should probably be doing three light jogs a week, lasting between 20 to 45 minutes – though it depends how quickly you run.

“Even if you do like to keep the pace up, you shouldn’t be pushing yourself too hard. This is the time to ease off slightly, so your body starts to recover from the more intensive training you’ve done. This should leave you fresh and have you ready to deliver an optimum performance on the big day. Also, this really isn’t the time to push too hard and injure yourself.”

Andy adds: “Try to decide what pace you want to run at on the day and work on sticking to it. A lot of people get excited at the start. Go too quickly and really suffer for it later.

“It’s also a good idea to do some of your training in the same gear you are planning to wear that day. Many runners have been tripped up by treating themselves to some new clothes that end up chafing them raw at the worst time possible. And don’t

wear brand new trainers,

make sure your shoes are broken in or you’re likely to get blisters.

“This may sound silly, but if you’re planning on drinking water during the race, you should also practise drinking while you’re running.

“If you don’t it may end up all down your front rather that down your throat.

“And cut the booze out – you can have a celebration after you’ve crossed the finish line. Eat normally, but eat well.”