Wales

London Marathon: Mum runs in daughter's memory

Emma and Elisha Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Emma Furneaux ran the marathon in memory of her daughter Elisha

After the death of her teenage daughter from a rare form of cancer, Emma Furneau lost all motivation.

But while watching the London Marathon last year, she vowed to run it for each of the 26 weeks her daughter was ill.

At the age of 17, Elisha died from a condition known as undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma.

Emma was one of a number of Welsh runners who helped make up a field of 40,000 that pounded the streets of London on Sunday.

"Elisha was ill for 26 weeks from diagnosis to her death," the mum-of-three from Gwynedd said before the race.

"So I will be running a mile for every week she was ill and a little bit extra for good measure. I know it's going to be hard physically but I'm excited."

Mrs Furneaux described how her daughter was working as an apprentice at a nursery when she first complained of back pain.

"We went back and forth to the doctors and they just prescribed painkillers and had no serious concerns which frustrated us," she explained.

"They eventually sent her for an x-ray, however by that point it was too late.

"Before she got the results she collapsed at home as the tumour had broken through her vertebrae and was in her spine."

'Devastated'

By the time she was diagnosed, cancer had spread to her lungs, kidney and pelvis - news which "devastated" the family's lives.

After Elisha died in October 2016, Mrs Furneaux said she struggled for motivation and would prefer to stay at home all day.

Image copyright Matt Bourne
Image caption Matt Bourne ran the marathon in memory of family friend Hollie Clark, who died of cancer aged eight

But since signing up for the London Marathon last summer, she has gone from a non-runner to completing the Barcelona half marathon in February and ran for the charity that helped the family.

She took a little over seven hours to complete the 26.3 mile (42 km/h) circuit.

While little Hollie Clark, from Cardiff, died from blood cancer in 2014 - and family friend Matt Bourne ran the marathon in her memory.

The eight-year-old's appeal for a stem cell donor to treat her cancer captured the hearts of the nation and inspired more than 1,000 people to sign a register.

Image caption Hollie Clark's story inspired a rise in registered bone marrow donors in Wales

A family campaign urging people to post selfies with their pants on their heads gained the support of celebrities, including Gareth Bale, and in the summer of 2014 increased Welsh donors by 2,580%.

Mr Bourne, 47, from Bridgend, described the marathon as "iconic" and hopes to continue Hollie's lifesaving legacy by raising more funds.

The Brackla Harriers runner took just over six-and-a-half hours to complete the race.

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