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Mum fulfils marathon promise to brain cancer son despite setbacks

Catherine and Edward in 2023

A North Wales mum has completed the TCS London Marathon to fulfil a promise she made to her son shortly after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Catherine Kelly, from Holywell, completed Sunday’s race in six hours and 50 minutes, despite missing weeks of training after a series of setbacks.

The amateur runner was forced to halt training after suffering an anaphylactic shock from reaction to medication she was taking for a knee injury.

Days later she was in hospital, this time caring for her son Edward – who she made a promise to run a marathon – after a shunt malfunction following his brain cancer diagnosis in October 2018.

Catherine said: “It was an eventful Easter and missing weeks of training meant a full re-evaluation of my expected time. I ran the race with my knee taped up to try and prevent further injury but around mile 14 I was forced to take it slow. I made a promise to Edward, I was never going to let him and other brain tumour patients down. That is what helped me to the end of the course.”

Edward, eight, was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumour and obstructive hydrocephalus at just three years old after doctors initially told the mum-of-five that her son’s inability to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time was due to the toddler not being left to self-soothe.

Having endured emergency surgery followed by gruelling chemotherapy Edward, who is a pupil at primary school, lives with a shunt to drain the build-up of fluid around his brain.

Edward with glasses, four weeks before diagnosis. Siblings Dylan and Edith in the high chair

Catherine added: “Shaune (Edward’s dad) and I have explained to Edward why I was going out for runs, telling him that when he was little, he had wobbly legs and fell over a lot because of a lump in his head. He simply replied ‘you ran the marathon so other people aren’t going to get wobbly legs’ and he gave me a huge hug. He’s been a brilliant support and I hope I’ve made him proud, fulfilling the promise I made those five years ago when we were sitting in a side room following the end of his brain cancer treatment.”

Catherine Kelly ran for her son Edward Kelly

Catherine who works as a commissioning officer at Flintshire County Council, was one of 80 runners who took on the world famous 26.2 miles. She has raised more than £9,000 for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

She added: “I’m still on such a buzz from the event. I must have added about four miles trying to high five the hands of the children watching from the side of the road. To know that I have raised an incredible amount which will contribute towards researching the disease is the icing on the cake.”

Carol Robertson, national events manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Catherine did a fantastic run on Sunday, despite her setbacks, and she has raised an amazing amount of money to help fund vital research. We’re so grateful for her support. 

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. Together we will find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

To donate to Brain Tumour Research via Catherine’s challenge, please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/catherine-kelly31