Friday, 21 October 2016

‘I did it for The Christie’ because my patients are the most courageous, brave and inspiring human beings I have ever met - Emma Widdowson

Emma Widdowson, Christie nurse and fundraiser 

Emma Widdowson
During September I ran from London to Manchester over seven days to raise money for The Christie and to highlight the challenges that many cancer patients experience.

I did it for The Christie because having worked as a nurse at The Christie on the Oncology Assessment Unit for 18 months I have learned about these challenges first-hand from my patients.

When I stared at The Christie I went to an induction session and the Chief Executive, Roger Spencer gave a welcoming speech. He told us that "the one piece of advice I will give you is talk to your patients." This stuck with me, and from day one of starting work at The Christie I did exactly that. I talked and listened to my patients every day and I found I had the honour of caring for some of the most courageous, brave and inspiring human beings I have ever met.

I’ve also been inspired by a close friend and cancer survivor, Mark, who has been treated at The Christie. Due to the nature of his illness he had to be in isolation for weeks following his treatment. The day he came out of isolation we sat in The Christie garden in the sun drinking coffee. He opened up about the challenges and hurdles he had to overcome both physically and mentally. It was at that moment that I decided I wanted a huge challenge to try and match the challenges that patients at The Christie like Mark have to battle with.

By listening and talking to my patients I was inspired to do something I didn't know was possible. But it's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it, and that is what my patients have taught me.

I ran from London to Manchester over seven days which equates to a marathon a day. Each day, I decided to wear an outfit to represent a different cancer. For example, I ran dressed in red with bright red lipstick for haematology cancers, dressed in purple to represent melanoma, ran in just my underwear to raise awareness about female cancers and wore a vest given to me by a Sarcoma patient.

The vest belonged to an amazing young guy who I had the privilege of caring for. He was previously fit and full of life but sadly lost his battle to Ewings Sarcoma in August. A couple of days before he passed away, he gave me his vest to run in and said "rock my vest."  His bravery, strength and courage were reminders of why I had set myself such a challenge.  When it got tough at times I felt like he was with me spiritually. 

My friends, family, colleagues and patients were all a great support throughout the week and their daily messages on social media were a real boost.  

My dad did a grand job of meticulously mapping the route and navigating me for 182 miles on his bike without a wrong turn. My mum did lots of baking which kept my sugar levels up and we named it 'rocket fuel'. It was definitely a team effort!

Cancer affects everyone in some way. I feel very privileged to work in one of leading cancer centres in the world. And I feel proud to be part of a team that provides patients with such high standards of care. But there is so much still to learn when it comes to treating cancer. 

The Christie charity is an integral part of The Christie and provides support above and beyond what the NHS can fund. 

I am therefore delighted to be supporting an exciting new campaign by The Christie charity. It’s called simply ‘I did it for The Christie’. Whether it’s baking a cake, jumping out of a plane, or running 7 marathons like I did, everyone in the North West can do something for The Christie and help make a difference to cancer patients’ lives across our region. 

The Christie charity provides enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. Gifts from supporters make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to cancer patients and their families. 

The new campaign, launched today, will help The Christie to reach new supporters and celebrate the fantastic achievements of thousands of Christie fundraisers.

Please share this blog and get your family and friends to support the campaign.

The Christie is incredibly close to my heart as I witness first-hand the bravery, courage and determination of my patients when life has become a real struggle for them. It is for this reason that I couldn't think of a more worthy charity to raise money for and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to do this challenge. 

Please visit the campaign website at

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