An Asfordby cancer survivor has been invited to start the city’s first ever Shine Night Walk this Saturday, October 20.
Heather Roythorne Finch, 38, will sound the starting horn as more than 700 walkers light up the streets of Leicester to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.
The 10k walk will start at 7pm from De Montfort University, passing by landmarks including Leicester Cathedral, the Clock Tower and Victoria Park before finishing back at the university.
Heather is passionate about the importance of research into cancer because she, her sister and her dad have all survived the disease.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” said Heather, who underwent a life-saving stem cell transplant in 2011. “I’m living proof that research has come a long way but there’s still a long way to go.
“That’s why I’d like to encourage anyone who can to grab some glow sticks and join in Leicester’s first ever Shine Night Walk.”
Last year in Leicester, Cancer Research UK spent around £2 million on some of the UK’s best scientific and clinical research.
The 38-year-old programme and relationships manager for the civil service, was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2009.
“When I was first diagnosed my world fell apart,” said Heather who is married to Gene. “I knew how serious it was because my sister Alice had just gone through treatment for the same thing.”
Heather had a golf ball sized tumour on her chest and was rushed to hospital for emergency chemotherapy. She returned to work after six months and underwent 15 sessions of radiotherapy, but it wasn’t long before symptoms returned.
Further chemotherapy took place at the Leicester Royal Infirmary while her dad Alan was receiving radiotherapy for prostate cancer.
“That was a tough time because I really felt I should have been supporting Dad,” said Heather. “Instead the family were focused on me and my treatment.”
Heather underwent a stem cell transplant in November 2011 and, although the treatment was tough, she hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s taught me that time is really precious and that sometimes we waste time on things we shouldn’t,” said Heather. “Now I make sure I spend time with the people and things that are important to me.
“Cancer Research UK scientists have developed treatments that have made a difference to the success of my cancer diagnosis, so I’m honoured to have been asked to start the walk. I would definitely encourage anyone who can to join in.”
Amy Hall, Cancer Research UK’s Event Manager, said: “We’re delighted that Heather has accepted our invitation to start this special, emotional event. We hope the whole community will unite behind Shine because the battle against cancer never stops. It’s a great opportunity for people to come together to remember loved ones lost to cancer or celebrate the lives of those dear to them who have survived.”
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives. In the East Midlands, that’s more than 2,000 people diagnosed every month.
But the good news is more people are surviving the disease than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
To enter Shine Night Walk, visit www.shinewalk.org or turn up on the night before 6.30pm.