An inspirational teenager who survived cancer as a toddler will be one of the first young men to take part in the Race for Life in Preston.
Tom Fletcher, who will turn 16 shortly before the event on Sunday June 16, will be sounding the starter horn before taking part with his mum Zoe, dad Paul and 24-year-old brother Ryan, as for the first time, men can sign up.
When Tom, of Penwortham, was three years old, he faced intensive chemotherapy and had to have his right kidney removed after being diagnosed with a Wilms Tumour in 2006.
Following the gruelling operation, he faced yet more chemotherapy and hospital trips, but he made an amazing recovery and is now a happy, healthy and sporty teenager.
The Fletcher family are even more keen to raise funds through the Race for Life event, as Zoe’s brother is currently being treated for multiple myeloma and Paul’s dad has also fought cancer.
Zoe, 43, who manages a children’s care home, said: “We are incredibly proud of Tom. He is a lovely, sporty, polite lad and to look at him nobody would ever know he was so seriously ill as a child.
“Our experience means we understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. We are very excited to take part in Race for Life and would urge as many people as possible to join us on the day.”
Tom, a pupil at All Hallows Catholic High School who will join Cardinal Newman College in September, said: “It will be a great week, turning 16 and taking part in Race for Life.
“I can still remember being poorly and going in and out of hospital.
“It was a difficult time for the whole family.
“But I am living proof that research into cancer does work.”
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is a series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.
Pretty Muddy Kids and Pretty Muddy events for adults will also be held at Moor Park on Saturday June 15.
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s Lancashire spokesman, said: “Tom and his family are an absolute inspiration.
“By following their lead, and joining the Race for Life in Preston, people can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.
“Our Race for Life events are fun, colourful, emotional and uplifting. You don’t need to be sporty to take part. You don’t have to train, and you certainly don’t need to compete against anyone else.
“Every day, 110 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West. To make a significant difference in the fight against cancer we need to harness as much energy and commitment as possible, and that’s why we need everyone to join.
“We’re urging mums, dads, nans, grandpas, brothers, sisters, friends and workmates to show their support by joining the Race for Life.
“It’s a perfect example of everyday people doing an extraordinary thing – uniting in a common cause to beat cancer.”
“We encourage our participants to help raise money in what every way they like – there are lots of ideas on the Race for Life website - because this allows Cancer Research UK to fund vital research that saves lives.”
Pretty Muddy Kids followed by Pretty Muddy for adults takes place at Moor Park on Saturday June 15.
Race for Life 5k and 10k for men, women and children takes place at Moor Park on Sunday June 16.
To enter Race for Life today visit www.raceforelife.org or call 0300 123 0770.