A keen runner who took up the activity after his father passed away from Leukaemia is set to run 10k in aid of our charity this spring.

Francis Lea, 25, lost his father Colin, who worked for 45-and-a-half years as a Postman, in August 2022. Colin, 63, had been working until just before he passed away and was the longest serving Postman in Crawley, West Sussex.

He died just five days after he was diagnosed with Leukaemia, part way through a family holiday at Selsey.

Francis, a Lawn Technician from Crawley, has entered the 10k at Dorney Lakes, near Windsor, on 10th March and is gathering sponsorship in aid of LMRUK from family and friends via his Facebook fundraising page.

Francis said: “Dad was diagnosed just five days before he passed away. He was absolutely fine and put the odd ache and pain down to the 10-12 hour shifts he was doing as a Postman.

“He worked right up until we all went on holiday to Selsey. We set off and he was fine on the Monday and the Tuesday. On Wednesday he said he didn’t feel well, so later that day he went to hospital and was diagnosed with Leukaemia – he died five days later.

“I knew nothing about Leukaemia until he died, so I’m keen to raise awareness of the different types of blood cancer as well as funds to support the charity.”

Colin leaves a widow, Lisa, 47, daughters Tarnya, 27 and Sianah, 23, and grandchildren Alfie, 8, Ameilia, 7 and Nova, 2. Since Colin died, his daughters have given birth. Tarnya and partner Alex have an 11-month-old, daughter, Lilah and Sianah and partner Zsolt also have a daughter Cinzia, who is 11 months.

Tarnya and Sianah both fell pregnant in May 2022 and were planning to tell their father they were both expecting when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

Francis has been busy getting into shape and training ahead of his 10k run in March. He said: “When my dad passed away, I was in a really bad way. I was over 15 stone and technically obese. Now I am much fitter, I’m down to 12 stone and I run five days a week. It really motivated me.”

He said he wanted the funds and awareness he hopes to raise with his run to help our charity to continue with funding vital research so that other families don’t have to suffer the trauma and sadness of losing a much-loved relative to the disease.

He added: “Dad had problems with his prostate and other health issues and had blood taken, but the tests didn’t pick up the Leukaemia. He had 21 blood tests in the last year of his life, and it was never diagnosed. As a family we were quite angry about that.”

The Lea family is keen to see testing for Leukaemia improved and provided for patients presenting other symptoms.

Dr Joanna Tilley, Operations Director at LMRUK said: “There are over 100 types of blood cancer, many of which are extremely rare, which is why it is so important to educate people on the common signs and symptoms to look out for to improve earlier diagnosis.

“We’re grateful to Francis and his family for helping to raise vital funds for our charity and supporting our work in improving blood cancer awareness. We wish him all the very best of luck ahead of his 10k in March – he’s a great inspiration.”

To support Francis’ fundraising, visit his fundraising page here: www.facebook.com/donate/1066775384514146/.

If you’re interested in fundraising for our charity to support our work in funding vital new blood cancer research, then discover all the ways to support us here: https://lmruk.org/fundraising/.