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RACE FOR LIFE: Three sisters Race For Life at home for mum who had miracle reprieve from ‘incurable’ cancer

Images: Race For life, Jane Redman 

A Black Country mum, who was told her cancer was ‘incurable’, will be treated to a special Race for Life at Home by her three young daughters who are scootering and cycling 5k in their local park in her honour.

Breast cancer patient Kellie Arkell, 36,  from Bilston, feared daughters Lola (4), Mia (10) and Elisha (16) would be left motherless after a scan appeared to show her breast cancer had spread to her liver. Doctors told her the spread meant her cancer was now incurable.

Single mum Kellie was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 after thickening in her breast tissue developed into a lump. She had intensive chemotherapy and suffered a catalogue of setbacks including sepsis twice, pneumonia, shingles, and Covid-19.

But to everyone’s astonishment, a clearer scan performed after Kellie’s treatment showed the ‘spots’ on her liver were not cancer after all, but benign cysts. Her disease was much less advanced than originally thought. She had a mastectomy to remove the breast and remaining tumour, and is now hoping for a clean bill of health.

The Arkell family will join thousands of people from across the UK who have all vowed to run, walk or jog 5K either alone or in small, socially distanced groups this April and raise money for life-saving research.  carry on the fight against the disease as the nation looks beyond lockdown.

People can visit to sign up to Race for Life at Home for £5* then receive a Race pack which includes a medal.  Money raised will help scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, helping to save more lives.

Cancer Research UK is predicting a staggering £300 million drop in income caused by COVID-19 over the next three years which could put future medical breakthroughs at risk. All 400 mass-participation Race for Life events across the UK were cancelled last year to protect the country’s health during the pandemic. And events that were scheduled for this spring and early summer have also now been postponed. This includes the Black Country Race for Life events in Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell which had been due to take place during the summer.

But former hairdresser Kellie knows exactly how vital it is to keep raising funds for life-saving research.

She said: “It was absolutely devastating when I was told my cancer was incurable. Can you imagine having to go home and tell your children you are going to die?

“It felt like a miracle when the tumours in my liver turned out to be cysts. The doctors were astounded too. They said this sort of thing hardly ever happens. It was the best news ever and literally gave me my life back.

“Even so, it has been the hardest year of my life coping with cancer in the middle of a pandemic. I had to go for my mastectomy completely alone and have not been able to have reconstruction surgery yet because it is not considered an essential operation.

“I’ve also opted to have a second mastectomy as I want to be sure I’ve done everything I can to minimise the chance of the cancer returning. I consider myself very lucky to have come through it all and I’m just grateful for family, and my children who have been so strong and who have made me laugh.

 “We’re all really excited about our Race for Life at Home challenge and are looking forward to the chance to raise funds for research to help develop gentler and more effective treatments for cancer.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, which has been in partnership with Tesco for 20 years, is an inspiring series of 3K, 5K, 10K, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.

A live broadcast on the Cancer Research UK Race for Life Facebook and Race for Life Instagram pages on Saturday April 24th will include an energiser from a fitness expert as well as inspirational messages of support from people who have been through cancer. Participants are then invited to run, walk or jog 5K. Organisers are also inviting participants to share photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #RaceatHome

Every year around 32,100 people are diagnosed with cancer in the West Midlands and one in two people in the UK born after 1960 will get cancer in their lifetime. But the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.

Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the West Midlands, said: “Even while we’re still apart, we can unite against cancer.

“There are a million reasons to Race for Life at Home, to help save lives, for those who have had vital treatment delayed or just for a reason to get off the sofa. We want people to run, walk or jog 5K and raise money for life-saving research.

“The truth is, COVID-19 has slowed us down.  But we will never stop and we are absolutely determined to continue to create better cancer treatments for tomorrow.

Even though we have to Race for Life differently this spring, nothing is going to stop us running, walking or jogging 5K to raise money to help beat cancer. That’s why we need as many people as possible across the West Midlands to sign up to Race for Life at Home this April, to stand united and do something extraordinary to help beat cancer.

“We’re constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and are working hard to move our mass participation Race for Life events to the autumn and to make sure they can go ahead safely and with all necessary COVID-19 guidelines in place. 

“We’d love to invite as many people as possible to Race for Life at Home this spring then physically come together in the autumn to join us for one of our Race for Life events in the Midlands.”

The Race for Life 3K and 5K which are open to all ages and abilities have been rescheduled for this autumn and are now due to take place at venues across the Midlands, including Walsall Aboretum on Sunday September 5, Himley Hall on Sunday 26 September and Wolverhampton West Park on Sunday 10 October.


New Autumn dates for Race for Life events in the West Midlands:

  • Cofton Park, Birmingham Pretty Muddy on Saturday 4 September;
  • Malvern Park, Solihull on Sunday 5 September
  • Walsall Aboretum on Sunday 5 September
  • Central Forest, Stoke on Trent Pretty Muddy on Sunday 12 September
  • Telford Town Park on Sunday 12 September
  • Himley Hall, Dudley on Sunday 26 September
  • The Quarry, Shrewsbury on Sunday 26 September
  • Sutton Park on Sunday 3 October
  • Arrow Valley Park, Redditch on Sunday 3 October
  • University of Warwick, Coventry RFL and Pretty Muddy on Saturday 9 October
  • West Park, Wolverhampton on Sunday 10 October
  • Sandwell Valley Country Park on Saturday 16 October
  • Worcester Racecourse Pretty Muddy & RFL on Saturday & Sunday 16 & 17 October
  • Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham on Sunday 24 October
  • Weston Park Pretty Muddy on Saturday October 30

Sign up to Race for Life at Home this April, and visit raceforlife.orgor call 0300 123 0770. 

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