University of Edinburgh student who survived cancer to run London Marathon after raising £100,000 for charity

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Billy Greenall, 22, has teamed up with six of his friends to raise £100,000 for charity in the run-up to the race

A University of Edinburgh student who was diagnosed with cancer aged just three is gearing up to run the London Marathon this Sunday.

Billy Greenall, 22, has teamed up with six of his friends to raise £100,000 for charity in the run-up to the race. He survived Wilms’ Tumour, a form of kidney cancer, after being diagnosed in 2005.

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The experience has inspired Billy to help others in similar positions - and his efforts will go to help the charity Young Lives vs Cancer.

Billy Greenall is getting set to run the London MarathonBilly Greenall is getting set to run the London Marathon
Billy Greenall is getting set to run the London Marathon | YoungLivesvCancer

He said: “When we were told I had cancer, the diagnosis was life-changing. Since then, our outlooks haven’t been the same since.

“I have tried my best to block out all the bad times, including the injections, blood tests, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy that I received.

““Throughout my treatment, I adopted various personas daily, from Spider-Man to Scooby Doo and Superman. Embracing these characters helped me detach from the reality of my battle with cancer.

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“It made me feel like I wasn’t just facing the challenges alone, but rather embodying the spirit and strength of each character. This gave me courage.”

A social worker from the charity helped Billy, mum Laura and dad Johnny through the hardest of times. The family fundraised for a new ‘Home from Home’, giving loved ones a chance to be close to youngsters undergoing treatment in Nottingham.

The home opened in 2009 and was named after Billy. He recently revisited it to see how it has helped other families through hard times.

There was no doubt in Billy’s mind as to which cause he wanted to back in the marathon.

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He added: “We first heard about Young Lives vs Cancer the first day that I was diagnosed.

“A Social Worker from the charity, Christine, was always there for us, providing both emotional and practical support. Without her support, our experience would have been even more miserable.

“It means everything to have Billy’s House named after me. I recently returned with my family and friends and couldn’t be more proud. It’s a testament to everyone involved that almost 2,000 families have been supported so far.”

Billy Greenall with six of his friends and mum LauraBilly Greenall with six of his friends and mum Laura
Billy Greenall with six of his friends and mum Laura | YoungLivesvCancer

The History of Art and Architectural History student is now in his final year and has combined training for the marathon with battering out his dissertation. He has been able to enjoy life’s good moments even more for having battled cancer.

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Billy said: “Cancer hasn’t dictated the course of my life, yet it has profoundly underscored its value.

“I’ve learned not to take anything for granted, a lesson that’s particularly poignant during moments of stress when the bigger picture often escapes me. Cancer has been instrumental in providing clarity and perspective in my life.

“I decided to take on the London Marathon as it’s the ultimate test of endurance and sheer determination. Despite lacking the athletic prowess of my friends and family who’ve conquered this feat, I’ve always been determined to take on this challenge.

“While I may not be the fastest runner, I firmly believe in the adage ‘slow and steady wins the race.’

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“I’m ready to embrace the journey, no matter how gruelling it may be. For now, my focus is on crossing that finish line with a smile on my face.”

Calling on people to back his fundraising efforts, Billy continued: “I’m not quite sure how, but I’ve managed to convince six of my best mates to run the marathon with me.

“We’re quite the motley crew, with ranging athletic ability. It will be a miracle if we all make it over the finish line in one piece.

“However, I couldn’t have chosen a better group of lads to run with me. I really hope people will get behind our marathon mission and donate.”

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Billy was diagnosed with cancer aged just threeBilly was diagnosed with cancer aged just three
Billy was diagnosed with cancer aged just three | YoungLivesvCancer

Thanking Billy for his work, the charity’s fundraising engagement manager Samantha Hughes said: “We can’t thank Billy enough for his incredible efforts and his amazing friends taking on the challenge alongside him too.

“Their efforts mean Young Lives vs Cancer can continue to be there for more children and young people, like Billy, who are diagnosed with cancer everyday across the UK.

“We can’t wait to cheer Billy and his team all the way to the finish line and would love to see as many people as possible get behind the boys too.”

You can back Billy’s fundraiser by clicking here.

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