Journey inspires big trek for Rugby woman

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Rugby woman Sandra South is preparing for the trek of a lifetime in honour of her friend’s turbulent journey fighting lymphoma.

She is raising money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research to highlight Gill Bullen’s battle with the disease.

Sandra, who has chosen to walk through Nepal, said: “Gill, a friend of mine who lives locally, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December 2012.

“Following unsuccessful chemotherapy she was offered the chance of a bone marrow transplant, which was her only hope of surviving.

“After two potential donors fell through, she was given a bone marrow transplant last July.”

The trek will raise vital funds for LLR.

“It’s also a thank you for the past research it has funded, and the wonderful support it gives to patients diagnosed with all forms of blood cancer. Money is needed to continue this research and to try to find the cause – totally unknown at the moment.”

She has been in training to trek in the foothills of the Annapurna range of mountains, which are part of the Himalayas.

“I shall be walking with a group of charity fundraisers for six days from Pokhara to Kathmandu, camping each night along the way in sub-zero temperatures,” added Sandra, who lives in Rugby.

“During each day, in warmer temperatures of around 25C, we walk tracks in undulating and steep foothills, accompanied by views of the Annapurna and other nearby mountains from this part of the range.

“In order to train, I have been working with a personal trainer at the Active Woman gym in Hillmorton, as well as walking with the Rugby Ramblers .”

Gill said her journey has been a ‘rocky road’.

“Since my transplant it has been rather a rocky road as the doctors balance the drugs that are needed against how the body responds.

“It is highly technical but the doctors at Birmingham are excellent in their experience and the treatments they can use. Whatever is said against the NHS, in this field they seem second to none.”

Gill is making slow progress.

“Not everyone survives it, but I am quietly confident,” she said.

“Nobody yet knows the cause of the disease which comes in many different forms. More research is needed to find better treatments, to find a cure and even to know a way to prevent the disease happening at all.”

She added: “ In the last ten years there has been such an improvement in treatments, and that is why I am doing so well overall. But LLR needs more money and more research to keep up its wonderful work.”

Any contributions, however small, will be very welcome, and can be made online via the Just Giving site. Go to