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Ashton dad takes to the streets of Tokyo raising vital funds

A devoted dad from Ashton is gearing up for his eighth marathon, in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity.

Andy Sykes' latest endeavour will take him to the streets of Tokyo where he will embark on the challenging yet rewarding journey of conquering another marathon on March 3.

As a member of the East Cheshire Harriers Running Club, Andy's training regimen has been nothing short of rigorous, often consisting of six days a week of preparation.

But for Andy, running is about much more than just physical exercise - for him it's a deeply personal journey that began as a way to give back to the hospital that treated his daughter, PixieBelle, when she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour in June of 2018 aged just 5.

Andy said: "Obviously your whole world changes at that point. She's only five years old and you've not really got experience of knowing and doing treatment for situations like that. As a parent and a family, you're learning at the same time as trying to process a lot of the stuff that's going on."

The journey was fraught with challenges, from navigating chemotherapy treatments during the COVID-19 lockdown to grappling with the struggles of tumour regrowth and adverse reactions to the drugs.

"She rang the 'end of treatment' bell just as we came out of the second major lockdown - going for chemo in that time period presented a lot of challenges and concern in itself. But then she had a scan follow-up three months later and that showed some signs of tumour regrowth."

Fortunately, PixieBelle responded positively to a new medical trial offered in Newcastle, which provided a less invasive treatment option with fewer side effects.

"She was one of 60 accepted onto the trial worldwide - I think there were 9 in the UK," Andy said.

"The team told us the treatment consisted of five tablets every Friday and they said it would be less harmful and less noticeable - of course, the traditional chemo causes hair loss and you can look very ill whereas with this they hadn't seen any signs of that."

The treatment enabled her to lead an "absolutely normal" life.

"During chemotherapy, PixieBelle missed a lot of school, she had no drive, no energy but this treatment was so much different.

"We've got to a point where we feel like we can actually plan stuff, previously it would be a case of 'the weekend is free, she's not poorly so we can do something' but now we can look forward to things three months in advance."

Now, as the dad-of-two prepares for his upcoming marathon in Tokyo, his daughter's resilience and spirit serve as a constant source of inspiration.

"She loves it, she loves the whole thing of 'my dad's done this'," Andy continued.

"There was a marathon I did last year in Manchester, she had a drama show on the same day but we said if I could run fast enough then I would make it back to Oldham to see her first performance in the competition so thankfully I did get there and it meant the world to her. She's very supportive of it all."

Andy added: "The fact I've done eight marathons blows my mind. I only started running off the back of PixieBelle's health diagnosis, I was just doing it for fundraising and then it kind of became my thing - I've met a lot of good friends through it, the running community in Tameside is awesome.

"I've done a few other race distances but weirdly enough I think my preferred distance is a marathon which sounds absolutely crazy to say because I never thought that would be the case after the first one!"

Andy is hoping to fundraise to help fund new research and development into brain tumours and treatment in the hope of one day being able to improve and save more lives.

He ran marathons in both Snowdonia and Valencia at the end of last year and will also be running one in Ibiza in mid April.

He shared that Tokyo was never somewhere he thought would appeal to him however after researching it a little more in the lead-up to flying out there, it seems "very interesting" and he's looking forward to what he feels will be "a great experience".

Andy has set a target of £500 and has so far received donations totalling £175. You can donate to the cause via the following link:



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