Twenty-four-year-old Millie Atkinson is to run the London Marathon later this month to raise funds for a charity that helped her through cancer.
Millie, who attended St Philip’s Primary School, and Uckfield College, was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was just eight years old.
One of her strongest memories is the way the charity CLIC Sargent supported her and her family through difficult times and now she plans to give back to them.
Millie said: “Although I was quite young and my memory is a little fuzzy I do remember the support I received from CLIC Sargent.
“I remember my CLIC Sargent nurse who would do blood tests and daily injections either at home or at school, which meant I didn’t have to travel or go to hospital.”
Millie has run ten half-marathons before and completed the Brighton Marathon in 2014 so she knows what she is letting herself in for but the London Marathon is still a huge commitment.
She said: “Knowing that I’m running for a cause that supported me and my family through such a difficult time is sometimes the only thing that gets me out of the door when I’m struggling to find motivation.”
Millie, who now lives in London and works as an events manager, was at primary school when she started to get bad stomach pains that meant she struggled to stand up straight.
She said: “I must have gone to the GP 20 or 30 times, plus two hospital visits, and no-one could really work out what was wrong with me. At one point they thought it was a kidney infection.”
Finally, when the pain continued, Millie was referred for an ultrasound at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath. When the results came through she was rushed to St George’s Hospital in London where it was confirmed she had leukaemia.
“Obviously it was a huge shock. I had very little knowledge of cancer. I remember I said to Mum: ‘Am I going to lose my hair?'”
Millie went through two years of chemotherapy and was in and out of hospital because of many complications.
She said the toughest impact of her illness was the side-effects she experienced due to the intensity of the treatment.
“Some of the chemo used to make me really crabby. Some made my skin really bad. We actually had nicknames for each chemo as they would affect me and my moods differently – we called one ‘anti-hug’.
“The way I looked also changed drastically. I lost all my hair and wore wigs, and I also ballooned due to the steroids, and eating a huge amount.”
Throughout all this a CLIC Sargent nurse provided emotional and practical support to Millie and her mother.
Now Millie says she is looking forward to running the marathon for CLIC Sargent to say thank you for all they did for her and her family when she was unwell.
Jade Clarke, Major Runs Project Manager at CLIC Sargent said: “When cancer strikes young lives we fight tirelessly to limit the damage it causes beyond their health.
“We rely on donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank Millie enough for her incredible efforts. We’ll be there on the day cheering her all the way to the finish line.”
If you would like to boost Millie’s London Marathon fund-raising please go to her JustGiving page.