Battling Leah given Race for Life honour

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life this weekend in Bury St Edmunds. W

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life this weekend in Bury St Edmunds. With her mum Kirsty Hudson. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

A four-year-old girl who survived a battle against cancer has been chosen to sound the starting horn for this year's Race for Life in Bury St Edmunds – before taking to the course herself to help raise money for others with the illness.

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life this weekend in Bury St Edmunds. W

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life this weekend in Bury St Edmunds. With her mum Kirsty Hudson. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Leah Clark of Rickinghall, who underwent a gruelling seven-month course of chemotherapy to treat the illness, will take part in the event at Nowton Park, in Bury St Edmunds, on Sunday, June 22, with her mother and friends in a group called Leah's Ladies.

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life this weekend in Bury St Edmunds. W

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life this weekend in Bury St Edmunds. With her mum Kirsty Hudson. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Kirsty Hudson described the shock she felt when her daughter was diagnosed with the rare tissue cancer rhabdomyosarcoma after a tumour was found in her stomach in March 2013.

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life next weekend in Bury St Edmunds. W

Leah Clark from Rickinhall who will be starting the Race For Life next weekend in Bury St Edmunds. With her mum Kirsty Hudson. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

The youngster had not really showed any symptoms – only stomach pain, which was initially believed to be related to allergies she has.

When the pain became more severe, Miss Hudson took Leah to a doctor in Botesdale. The youngster was then sent to the West Suffolk Hospital for a scan, which revealed the tumour.


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'To be honest, we did not really have time to stop and think about her diagnosis because it was all so hectic at the time,' said Miss Hudson, 23.

'But obviously it was a huge shock because before Leah was diagnosed I had not known of a child having cancer before. It is the last thing you want it to be.'

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After the tumour was discovered, Leah was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where her exact condition was diagnosed.

She spent four-and-a-half weeks at the hospital while her family stayed in accommodation provided by the Sick Children's Trust.

She underwent seven months of chemotherapy, during which time she experienced sickness and hair loss. She also had a course of radiotherapy at the University College of London.

She had to take nine separate medications a day to treat the tumour and is now having regular scans to determine the next course of treatment.

Miss Hudson, who used to do bar work in the Cross Keys in Redgrave, also spoke about how the diagnosis meant she had to give up her job and her plans to go to the University of East Anglia to study midwifery.

'It was really nice that they decided to pick us to start the race and Leah is really excited about it,' she added.

'Until it happens to somebody close to you or somebody connected to you then you don't really understand what an effect it has on your whole life. It just turns everything upside down.'

Miss Hudson is also undertaking a sponsored skydive for The Sick Children's Trust at Norwich Airport on July 12. To sponsor her, visit www.doitforcharity.com/kirstyhudson

Are you doing something for charity? Tell the Mercury by calling 01379 651153 or email dma.news@archant.co.uk

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