Sam Ramsay

8 4 K8

Fundraising for Anthony Nolan
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8 Marathons in 8 Days, 7 June 2024
Anthony Nolan

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RCN in England and Wales 803716, Scotland SC038827
We make lifesaving connections to help more patients survive and thrive


The plan is to run 8 marathons in 8 days. 7 in 7 was initially my preference, but that wouldn’t quite get us from London to Chorley via St Peter’s College Oxford (the institution from which she’d recently graduated). Perhaps more crucially, ‘8 4 K8’ is much snappier.

Why? Well just over a year ago, I sat on a tube making my way over to a West London hospital. Writing this, I try to resist the urge to retrospectively claim of having dark premonitions of the news about to be delivered. The truth is I felt nothing really. Slight indignance maybe at being pulled out of work? I suppose an overriding feeling that everything would probably be okay.


I made my way to the hospital ward. My godmother Sarah, who had sat with my sister Kate as she waited for her test results, briefed me on my way in. Leukaemia was the verdict. Cancer in my sister’s blood.


No walls caved in, the earth didn’t shatter, the world did not feel as if it had ended. That all came later. But we were certainly quite concerned. I went through to see Kate, and she also seemed a little bit concerned by the news.

Above all else, she seemed most frightened about the volume of needles that were being inserted into her. Not the grave threat to her life posed by her cancer, nor the indefinite hiatus from her studies and job, or the destruction of her social life and independence. It’s funny now to think back to a time when Kate wasn’t accustomed to the daily insertion of needles variously into her veins, bones, and eyes.


My parents arrived. Another broadly novel sensation that would soon become extremely familiar to us all: I desperately wanted to have something to say, but there really was nothing to say. I held my mum tight to stop her from shaking – I realised we both were.

Kate’s leukaemia was treated at University College London Hospital. A successful bone marrow transplant was conducted on the 6th April.


There is no happy ending – not yet anyway. Kate is only just out of hospital. A little bit more hair than she had 6 months ago, still much less than she had just over 12 months ago.


Crucially, she no longer has cancer. She is not well, but she continues to fight hard. I am so proud of her. I want to spell it out very plainly for the avoidance of doubt: Kate would not be alive without Anthony Nolan.  Anthony Nolan arranged the bone marrow transplant which has prevented my sister’s death. Without their help, I could still describe how hard she fought, and how proud I was of her, as long as I remembered to change the tenses. So this run is to support their work.


This time last year, we all sat in Kate’s hospital room. She was desperately ill; frightened, frail and fatigued. Yet we still all hoped that things could get better in time, with the benefit of a transplant which could start to make her better.


Kate is now at home. But plenty of people still sit in those hospital rooms, totally beaten down by a horrible illness, with the only real comfort provided by the transplant Anthony Nolan might be able to organise. 


I would say this run is for Kate, but she thinks it’s a stupid idea. So instead, this run is for those people in hospital rooms, impatiently hoping Anthony Nolan can stop them from dying and source a donor.


Any donation in support of Kate, and anyone else on that register, would be so gratefully received. In the meantime, I’ll get busy running about 217 miles from University College London Hospital to Chorley, starting Saturday 8th June, and finishing on her birthday on the 15th.

About the charity

Anthony Nolan

Verified by JustGiving

RCN in England and Wales 803716, Scotland SC038827
Anthony Nolan is the pioneering charity that unites people and science to make lifesaving connections - matching stem cell donors to those in need of transplants and treatments and growing their world-leading stem cell register, so everyone can find the match they need.

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