Wheeling to the finish line at The Banham Marsden March

Leanne was diagnosed with metastatic stage 4 cervical cancer in 2021. Two years later, she completed The Banham Marsden March – this is her story.

In 2023 Leanne took part in The Banham Marsden March for the first time: “I raised around £700 and had so many amazing donations come in from people who were sponsoring me. I managed to walk around 11 miles of the 15-mile route and finished the rest of it in a wheelchair that I’d hired before the event."

“It was such a lovely day, the atmosphere was incredible and I did it alongside my mother and brother – my brother was the one who pushed me towards the finish line. 15 miles is a long way, but also completely achievable. I’ve now signed up to take part again this year.”

A Royal Marsden patient in a wheelchair smiling and holding up a Banham Marsden March medal, with two people smiling behind her.
Leanne at the Banham Marsden March with her mum and brother

Leanne’s story at The Royal Marsden

In 2012, Leanne was diagnosed and treated for very early stage cervical cancer at a local hospital. Life carried on as normal and she had her twin boys, Alfred and Edward. However, worrying symptoms developed in 2020. 

“I started getting severe lower back pain and repeated UTIs (urine infections). I couldn’t even stand up properly at this point. After my initial cervical cancer treatment, I had been having very regular smears and was being monitored."

“I asked my GP to be referred to someone specialising in spinal problems in case this could help. This led to me having an MRI scan, which found a mass on my lower spine. I finally received a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma – a secondary cancer linked to my original diagnosis."

Headshot of a person smiling in a Royal Marsden Cancer Charity t-shirt

“I was then referred to The Royal Marsden, under the care of Dr Susan Lalondrelle who has always been endlessly optimistic and positive. She immediately knew what to do and said I needed to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy."

"I got wrapped up into The Royal Marsden’s wonderful ways of working. I’ve had some lovely nurses assigned to my care – even the ladies who come round with the food trolley are so amazing."

“After finishing my treatment – which also included robotic surgery using the Charity-funded da Vinci robot – my scans showed no evidence of disease.”

Sadly in 2023, Leanne started suffering from pain again and was re-admitted to The Royal Marsden, under the care of Matthew Brown and the Pain Team. “My worst fears were confirmed after a few weeks of being an inpatient, I’d suffered a recurrence and was told that I’d need more chemotherapy. This felt like a huge blow, but I knew that I was in the best possible place at The Royal Marsden to have more treatment and be taken care of.”

Leanne's passion for events like The Banham Marsden March

A Royal Marsden patient in a wheelchair with two people behind, they're all wearing Banham Marsden March t-shirts.

Leanne is now continuing with her treatment in The West Wing Clinical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden in Sutton: “I feel so passionate about raising money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and taking part in events like the Banham Marsden March. Their support is helping so many people like me. Funding research is lifesaving, it gives people hope. I think it’s important for other people to realise that when The Royal Marsden come up with something new and brilliant, this is also benefitting other patients, not just those in their hospital.”

Together we walk, jog – or wheel!

Leanne wasn’t the only marcher who finished the route in a wheelchair. 21-year-old Dom – who lives with Spina bifida and hydrocephalus – took part in memory of his friend James, a brain tumour patient at The Royal Marsden: “I wanted to help raise money for the charity and give back to the hospital that looked after James."

A Royal Marsden patient in a wheelchair, wearing a Banham Marsden March cap and dressed as superman, doing a superman pose with his fist outstretched
Dom at the Banham Marsden March

“The route was at a steady incline, so I made sure I was at the front in order to keep momentum and not to get caught up in the crowd. Being in a wheelchair means I am lower down, so being stuck in a crowd isn’t ideal. Luckily, I was able to stay at the front of the crowd and everyone was very accommodating.”

“The final mile was difficult, but I pushed through! As we reached the finish line, everyone was cheering us on."

The atmosphere was absolutely amazing, and spirits were so high. I met loads of new people and also saw so many familiar faces. I felt really good about myself and was so proud of what I had achieved”. After this positive experience, Dom is planning to take part in the 15-mile route in 2024, and going forward he plans to participate annually.

The Banham Marsden March is back! However you mean to take part, join us on 12 May for our 15 or 5-mile route to raise funds and transform the lives of cancer patients.

Find out more about The Banham Marsden March.

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