Candid With Cancer #8 – My Second Cancer Diagnosis
Thomas Ashley details his battle against AML as part of a new weekly blog
In October 2023, Keith McGregor will be heading off to Amsterdam to take part in the iconic Amsterdam marathon to raise vital finds for Cure Leukaemia.
Keith is taking on the marathon to raise funds for the charity for a very personal reason, having lost his dear friend Geoff Hill to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in September 2021.
“The reason I’m running for Cure Leukaemia is because I’ve been a very close friend of Geoff Hill for around 40 years, and Geoff sadly passed away in September 2021.
We were all very close friends of Geoff, and we regularly see the family, including his eldest daughter Emily.
It was also lovely to spend some time with Liv and Alfie, Geoff’s two younger children, who came over from Australia for Christmas.”
Keith isn’t the first person to dedicate his time towards raising funds for the charity in honour and in memory of Geoff, as many of his friends and family have taken on their own challenges.
“Geoff used to talk to me a lot about Cure Leukaemia and the fundraising done by the likes of his hero Geoff Thomas and others and was so enthusiastic about the charity. He wanted to prevent anyone from going through what he did. He was constantly helping when and where he could”
This will be Keith’s second marathon, after previously conquering the London Marathon in 2006.
He began training for the Amsterdam Marathon at the end of 2022, which involved running a half marathon in November, followed by three more half marathons in the first half of 2023.
“Training has been going well, I’ve done four half marathons and a 16 mile run in the past six months or so, as well as lots of shorter runs.
I’ve got at least one more half marathon to run in September and may add in one or two more. Unlike 2006, when I tried to go from 10k to marathon in the space of a few months, I’m already at half marathon distance with four months to go, so feeling good about not picking up an injury.
I’m probably also a little lighter and my general fitness is similar if not better now. So overall I’m hugely positive about it.
Keith is also a regular blood donor for many years and made his 100th donation on 19th April.
“I’ve been a regular blood donor for many years and I know how much Geoff and his family appreciate that. I got lots of lovely words from Geoff every time I donated particularly when one of my donations went to Kings College Hospital where Geoff was being treated. My blood wouldn’t have gone to Geoff as it goes to premature babies but I know how important blood donation is to people with Leukaemia.
I recently made my 100th donation and have already booked in for my 101st in July.”
Keith was devastated to lose his best mate from schooldays at such a young age. He remembers how in an instant, Geoff’s life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed, aged 48. He recalls the rollercoaster that followed and the glimpses of hope that kept Geoff and all his friends going over the years.
“We all held on to the prospect of Geoff receiving the ground-breaking treatment that would save his life. It wasn’t to be for him.
But I know when I’m running the streets of Amsterdam, he’ll be with me, willing me on so that the money I raise can help others to survive.”