Running for Amy
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
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
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