Run­ning for Amy

TV Times - - Real Life - Great North Run Joanne Lowles

As the TV Times celebrity team en­ters the Great North Run, we talk to one fam­ily who have a spe­cial rea­son to cheer it on

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As the gun fires to start this year’s Great North Run, look out for the bright yel­low vests of the TV Times run­ning team. For the last 34 years, at events all over the coun­try, a team of de­ter­mined and ded­i­cated celebri­ties has been run­ning to raise money for blood cancer char­ity Blood­wise, for­merly known as Leukaemia & Lym­phoma Re­search.

On Sun­day, they’ll be among 56,000 run­ners tak­ing part in the world’s largest half marathon, from New­cas­tle to South Shields, all rais­ing money to help the likes of Heather and Amy Carmichael, a mother and her 12-year-old daugh­ter from Stone­house in South La­nark­shire. Their lives changed for­ever when Amy was di­ag­nosed with acute lym­phoblas­tic leukaemia aged just seven.

‘We were on hol­i­day in July 2012 when Amy started to feel un­well,’ ex­plains mum Heather, 46. ‘Doc­tors ini­tially thought it was ap­pen­dici­tis, then a virus. When they took some blood, ev­ery­thing changed.’

Amy’s tests re­vealed leukaemia and she started two-and-a-half years of gru­elling treat­ment at Yorkhill Hos­pi­tal in Glasgow (now re­named

The Royal Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren).

‘She had lots of side-effects,’ con­tin­ues Heather, who works as a fi­nan­cial plan­ning an­a­lyst as well as run­ning a dance school. ‘She lost her hair, had aw­ful sick­ness, mouth ul­cers and pains in her legs that were so bad she some­times had to use a wheel­chair.

‘Then she de­vel­oped di­a­betes due to the steroids she was on and, right at the end of her treat­ment, she got chem­i­cally in­duced menin­gi­tis. It just never stopped.’

While Amy was bravely en­dur­ing her treat­ment, she was in­tro­duced to Blood­wise and the amazing work they do. ‘In fact, the treat­ment Amy was on was only pos­si­ble through their re­search,’ re­veals Heather. ‘Amy knew it was be­cause of Blood­wise that she was get­ting bet­ter and she wanted to raise money to help other chil­dren.’

The de­ter­mined young­ster first pledged to raise £1,000. She achieved that re­ally quickly and has gone on to col­lect a stag­ger­ing £16,000.

‘Amy has been in re­mis­sion for nearly two years,’ ex­plains Heather. ‘She was de­ter­mined to get back to nor­mal­ity and now en­joys swim­ming, theatre, bal­let and foot­ball. She has seen a lot of hor­ri­ble things, but that has given her a zest for life.’

Amy, who’s just started sec­ondary school, agrees.

‘I won’t ever for­get what hap­pened to me, but I don’t fo­cus on it. How­ever,

I do think how lucky I am.

Some of my friends didn’t get the chance to start high school, some of them not even nurs­ery or pri­mary.

So, for me to go to high school this year is amazing.’ THE 2016 GREAT NORTH RUN is pre­viewed ON PAGES 42-43

SUN­DAY / BBC1 / 9.30AM

Tyne team: Past run­ners cut a dash Even when she lost her hair, the brave girl had miles of smiles for Mum Proud Amy stands un­der a poster of her­self at an­other fundrais­ing event Sam’s the man for young Amy

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