A Preston mum, who has clocked up five Race for Life events, is urging more women and girls to lace up their trainers and join her fundraising mission.
“Mum taught me that cancer is horrible but your family and your positive attitude can really help to keep you going. You don’t have to just curl up and die,” said 49-year-old Alex Philipson from Fulwood, Preston.
Last June she took part in Race for Life in Moor Park - and just three days later her mum Marjorie Dexter died following a 10-year battle against cancer.
Alex’s mum Marjorie was 70 years old when she passed away on June 18, 2014.
Now Alex is calling on other mothers and daughters to join in her in one of three events from Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life series this year.
Ladies can opt for a 5K, 10K or for the very brave the new Pretty Muddy 5k obstacle course with an added helping of mud.
Marjorie, who was married to husband Roy Dexter, was first diagnosed with myeloma, a type of cancer that develops from cells in the bone marrow, in early 2004.
She had first become unwell towards the end of 2003 and made a visit to her GP to raise concerns about a lot of spinal pain. Doctors initially thought that she had osteoporosis as she was presenting with bone distortions in her spine.
She had also gone into renal failure and that’s when it was discovered that she had myeloma. She was treated at Royal Preston Hospital.
Marjorie was initially in hospital for two months where she underwent dialysis and chemotherapy treatment.
At this stage the family were told that Myeloma was slow, progressive and incurable. They were told that it was at the late stages and that Marjorie had between two and five years to live.
In late 2004 Marjorie underwent a full stem cell replacement at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
This was very difficult treatment and she was unwell for just over six months.
Following this it took her a good few months to get back on her feet and she went into remission and needed no further treatment for almost three years.
In 2007 Marjorie became unwell again. She started palliative chemotherapy treatment at the Royal Preston Hospital. She had treatment every four weeks up until the time that she passed away.
Marjorie was the longest surviving patient in Preston on this treatment – eventually the drug company gave the treatment to the hospital free of charge, because she had survived so long.
Alex, a commercial manager at BAE Systems, who is married to Gary, and has daughters Jemima, 18, Matilda, 15, says: “Mum had a really good quality of life.
“She did struggle to walk a little because the Myeloma eats the calcium in the bones.
“Despite this, she did really well. She always had her grandchildren over, we went on loads of family holidays and she always set herself goals.
“She had a very positive attitude. She was a strong lady and never once moaned or said why me.”
As well as Alex, Marjorie was also mum to her other daughter Eve Parkinson. In total Marjorie had five grandchildren Alex’s two daughters Jemima and Matilda and Eve’s three children Joe, 25, Lottie, 24 and Ella, 21.
Alex says: “Mum taught me that cancer is horrible but your family and your positive attitude can really help to keep you going.
“You don’t have to just curl up and die.”
Just days before Marjorie died she was in very high spirits and had all of her family around her.
But on the Tuesday night, following Race for Life in Preston on the Sunday, she became unwell and passed away during the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Alex says: “We were completely floored as it just wasn’t expected to happen at all, mum was so well during the days before.
“In some ways though we were lucky; we didn’t have to watch her in pain or getting progressively worse.
“It was very peaceful and very quick and she didn’t suffer at all.”
For the past five years Alex has taken part in Race for Life, last year running with her daughter Matilda, and says she’d encourage others to sign up and help raise vital funds to fight 200 types of cancer.
She says: “Race for Life is so important, not just to remember those we have lost, but to celebrate their lives, because they are still so important.
“The race does so much, brings in so much money and brings people together. It’s sad but also a happy occasion.
“If it wasn’t for Cancer Research UK, we wouldn’t have had the drugs that kept my mum alive for 10 years and she wouldn’t have enjoyed the time watching her grandchildren grow up.
“Race for Life is only half an hour out of your life and I think everyone who can, should do it.”
The 5k and 10K Race for Life events take place at Moor Park on Sunday May 24 while the Pretty Muddy is on Saturday July 18 at the same venue.
l To enter Race for Life today go to raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.
l If you are taking part in Race for Life in Preston email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your stories.