Royston woman to share cancer story at Welwyn Garden City charity Willow's 10k event

PUBLISHED: 06:54 26 September 2019

Lizzie Erian from Royston having a Special Day with the Willow foundation in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Willow

Lizzie Erian from Royston having a Special Day with the Willow foundation in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Willow

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A young woman from Royston diagnosed with stage four cancer will share her story at a charity event at Hatfield House.

Lizzie Erian will speak at the Willow 10K event in front of hundreds of participants to demonstrate how valuable their fundraising efforts are.

Herts-based Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill 16 to 40-year-olds to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable 'special days'.

Lizzie was diagnosed with Stage 4 oral cancer in January 2018, aged just 30. As a non-smoker and non-drinker it came as a huge shock. She was quickly booked in to have surgery to remove half her upper jaw and had to go abroad for months of proton beam radiotherapy.

She said: "I was told I might not speak properly again, or eat solid food again. So I feel especially lucky to be able to speak at the Willow 10K.

"But as well as luck, staying positive and having goals to work towards played a huge part in my recovery. This is where Willow came to the rescue with my special day.

"It was a trip to London with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, to watch a performance of The Book of Mormon in the West End, followed by a fantastic three-course dinner.

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"It was the most wonderful experience - we did so much laughing that I didn't need to do my face physio exercises for about a week afterwards!

"It gave us all the chance to be together in a non-cancer context - a chance for me to feel 'normal' again and something other than just a 'cancer patient'. It also enabled me to go some way to thanking my family for all they've done for me.

"More than anything, it kept me motivated - I literally dreamed about it during my treatment, especially post-surgery when I couldn't talk. It was something to work towards - to go from being told I might not be able to eat properly again, to being treated to a three-course meal in public was quite an achievement. For me, my special day was a light at the end of, at times, a very dark tunnel.

"Going through a life-changing illness definitely gives you a new perspective - you realise that spending time with people you love, having experiences and making memories together is basically all that matters. And my special day stands out as a seriously special memory - not just for me, but for my family too.

"Every time we listen to The Book of Mormon soundtrack in the car, I think back to how wonderful that day was and I'm often overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude."

The annual Willow 10K is back for its 11th year next Sunday, October 5, and with a shorter 5K route and 1K junior race it is a great family-friendly event. Willow Life presidents Bob and Megs Wilson will be there on the day to cheer everyone on.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob said: "It's an honour to meet the inspirational participants, like Lizzie, that have overcome serious illness or have lost a loved one, who take part to help support Willow.

"Every penny raised in sponsorship will help Willow to continue to help those going through such a difficult time in their young lives. Whichever route you sign up for, you'll be supporting special days and with every step you'll be putting smiles on the faces of those who most need them."

To enter the Willow 10K visit willowfoundation.org.uk/willow10K or call 01707 259777.

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