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Beckenham marathon runner aims to raise £50,000 for Cancer Research UK

PUBLISHED: 19:15 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 19:15 22 November 2016

Debbie after she crossed the marathon finish line

Debbie after she crossed the marathon finish line

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Debbie Ward and her twin, Linda, have raised £44,859.25 so far

Debbie and her twin Linda after completing a Race for LifeDebbie and her twin Linda after completing a Race for Life

A woman from Beckenham has set herself, and her twin sister, the challenge of raising £50,000 for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) before their 50th birthday.

Debbie Ward, 49, plans to run next year’s Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf the charity once again, but hopes that her current £44,859.25 funds raised can reach its target.

The enthusiastic runner ran her first marathon in 2014 at the age of 47 having been offered a place to run with the understanding she would raise £2,000, but after raising just shy of £9,000 Ms Ward realised she had a passion for running with an aim, and so for the past three years has continued on her mission to hit £50,000.

Ms Ward’s motivation becomes clear when she speaks about her experience with cancer, “My grandmother had breast cancer in the 1970s and survived it. My mum Marion was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and beat it. My uncle Doug was diagnosed with prostate cancer around this time. Then in 2010 my boss Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat it. In the same year my mum was diagnosed with serious lung cancer.

Debbie Ward, 49, running the marathon for Cancer Research UKDebbie Ward, 49, running the marathon for Cancer Research UK

“But in 2011, Emma’s cancer had unfortunately retuned and had spread to her spine. During this time my mum’s health spiralled and during Christmas 2011, the cancer had spread to her brain. Although having never met, mum and Emma shared their support and experiences via me and became friends through correspondence and gifts, helping each other through their respective battles. Sadly, Emma lost hers on February 28 2012. Devastatingly, mum lost her fight on May 6 2012.

“But cancer hadn’t quite finished with us yet. Tragically, just weeks before mum passed away and at the age of just 48, my brother Rob was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer which had already spread to his pelvic bone. I was devastated. Then angry. Then hopeful. Having run five Races for Life with my identical twin, Linda, and having become a pretty keen runner for about three years, I knew I had it in me to run a marathon and do something positive after the most devastating of months.”

After her 2014 marathon success, CRUK asked Ms Ward if she would like to take on the role of social media ambassador, advising new runners on fundraising and running, and having agreed without hesitation it’s a role that she continues today and “enjoys immensely”.

In November 2015, she reduced her working week from five days a week to four days so she could have a better work/life balance and devote more time to training and fundraising, and of course spend more time with her brother. Four and a half years on, despite the cancer spreading further, Ms Ward’s brother still enjoys a good quality of life and that is her incentive.

From now until her next marathon, Ms Ward and her twin plan to host various bake sales, and a quiz at The Chancery in Beckenham to raise money for more research.

To help them reach their target, visit their Just Giving page, www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Deborah-Ward14

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