£100,000 fundraising target for Brindleyplace Dragonboat Race will directly benefit patients in Birmingham

Spectators will line the Canals of Birmingham this Saturday as the 18th annual Brindleyplace Dragonboat Race sponsored by Deutsche Bank returns to the City with a record-breaking target of raising £100,000 for Birmingham based blood cancer charity, Cure Leukaemia.

Teams from across the region including Nandos, Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, GVA, West Midlands Combined Authorities, Siamais, Kind Group, Colliers International, The ICC, Jaguar Land Rover, Middleton Foods, Genting Casino, Harvey Nash and not forgetting the event sponsors Deutsche Bank, will battle it out in fancy dress to find out who will be crowned Dragonboat Champions!

The monumental target of £100,000 has been set to help fund 10% of Cure Leukaemia’s £1million Centre Appeal to fully fund the expansion of the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. Work started on the transformational £3.2m project last month and when complete, the capacity of the globally significant Centre will be doubled meaning double the number of patients treated and hopefully more lives saved, just like that of 28-year-old Elizabeth Dean from Birmingham.

Back in 2014, Lizzie was happily enjoying life. She had a successful job as a mechanical engineer and had recently moved in with her boyfriend Phil. Lizzie had been suffering from tonsillitis and after a visit to her GP, was prescribed antibiotics. The antibiotics cleared the tonsillitis but Lizzie continued to feel ill, tired and was suffering from a high heart rate. After phoning the NHS helpline who were alarmed by her high heart rate, Lizzie was referred to A&E. The next morning, as Lizzie sat in the waiting area, she found herself too ill to walk and as her name was called to go through to triage, she stood up and passed out immediately.

She was taken up to the Ward, before blood tests revealed she had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and her course of treatment started that very day.

Lizzie said,

After being diagnosed, I lay on the bed with my partner sat next to me and it dawned on me that in the snap of my fingers, I had gone from being normal to being ill. Everything had changed. When the Doctor told me I had blood cancer, my first question was – am I going to have a normal life? She simply replied, I don’t know.
I accepted it pretty fast. I told myself, it is what it is and being sad and upset isn’t going to change it. I made that decision very early on. Not to be sad, not to cry and to be as happy as I can each day. That way it would be better for me and everyone visiting me. Working as a mechanical engineer, I fix things. And I told myself if I did exactly what the Doctors told me, then they would fix me too.

After the first four cycles of treatment, Lizzie was told she was in remission and went back to work.

Just a few months later, she then received the dreaded news that her cancer had returned and shortly after, she underwent a bone marrow transplant and once again went in to remission.

Despite being in remission, Lizzie continued to suffer from side effects and her vision became blurry due to a leukaemic mass behind her optic nerve. The leukaemia had returned for the second time and she lost the sight in her eye as a result.

She was told that there was nothing more they could do for her and she had just months to live.

Despite hearing this, Lizzie was placed on a world first clinical trial (VIOLA), run by the team of Doctors and Nurses at the Centre for Clinical Haematology, Birmingham.

She said,

I wouldn’t be alive now without the Centre for Clinical Haematology and the fact that I was referred to Birmingham for my bone marrow transplant after the first relapse. The Centre is always crowded and the new expansion is so important. By doubling the capacity, they can treat more patients and hopefully keep more people alive, just like they’ve done for me. If the nurses at the Centre weren’t funded by Cure Leukaemia, they wouldn’t be able to carry out these life-saving trials and treat the patients.

Lizzie kindly agreed to feature in Cure Leukaemia’s £1m Centre Appeal brochure to share her story.

I feel like I’m helping a little bit. People are doing incredible things for Cure Leukaemia - cycling, running, triathlons and all those taking part in the Dragonboat Race this Saturday. I can’t do any of that as I’m not strong enough but if I can help in this little way (by sharing my story), then it’s a fantastic way to raise funds for the Doctors and Nurses who helped me since my diagnosis three years ago.

The first race begins at 11am with the final taking place at 16.15pm. There will be a host of family activities taking part in Brindleyplace including a children’s fancy dress competition, arts and crafts market, face painting, Punch and Judy show and so much more. Spectators are being invited to wear red to turn Birmingham a sea of red and all races will be broadcast LIVE on a giant screen in the square thanks to Elonex Outdoor Media.

Due to a late dropout, there are two boats remaining for this weekend’s event. Boats are made up of 11 participants and each team is asked to raise a minimum of £2,000 in fundraising. If you know a company or team who would like to take part, please email beinspired@cureleukaemia.co.uk

To watch Lizzie Dean’s patient video, click here.

To donate to the teams, click here.

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