Brave young cancer battler will start borough Race For Life event

Ellie Rieveley
Ellie Rieveley

An inspirational youngster who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four will be the special guest at a popular charity event.

Ellie Rieveley is to be the official starter for the Race For Life at Pennington Flash on Sunday, June 2.

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She will then take on the 5km course with her mum Leanne, 42, dad Ben, 43, and eight-year-old brother Stanley.

It is the first time that Cancer Research UK has invited men to join women and children in the fund-raiser.

Ellie, who is now six and lives in Astley, has faced a tough few years after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2016.

She had joined the reception class of St Stephen’s Primary School in Astley that autumn and was feeling under the weather.

The symptoms of a high temperature and exhaustion were put down to a virus by a GP.

When her mother spotted a huge black bruise on Ellie’s knee and other purple marks, she turned to the internet and became worried she may have blood poisoning.

After being told there was a three-week wait for a blood test at their health practice, Leanne insisted Ben take Ellie to A&E.

Ellie was referred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where she had a blood transfusion, and within 24 hours her parents were told she had leukaemia and needed to start chemotherapy treatment.

Her parents took it in turns to be at the hospital with Ellie, while Leanne’s mum also helped out with Stanley and younger brother Chester, who was only four months old at the time.

The steroids Ellie was placed on had a huge impact, as they made her bubbly personality disappear and she became very withdrawn and refused to chat.

Ellie was in hospital for more than a month, but was allowed home to coincide with her mum’s 40th birthday and amazed everyone by singing Happy Birthday after weeks of not wanting to communicate.

She lost her hair completely twice during treatment, but it has now grown back so much that she recently needed her first haircut following chemotherapy.

Ellie, who took part in Pretty Muddy Kids at Manchester’s Heaton Park last summer for Cancer Research UK, missed most of reception and year one at school.

However, after finishing treatment in December, she loves being back at school and leading a normal life with her friends and family.

Leanne, who worked as a children’s entertainer before Ellie became poorly, and Ben, who works as a product manager for the Co-op group, are delighted to see Ellie’s bubbly, fun personality return.

Leanne said: “The last few years have been beyond horrific. Ellie has gone through so much. But it is a huge relief to have come through the other side and to see her back at school and leading a normal life.

“Our experience means we understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. We are very excited to take part in Race For Life and would urge as many people as possible to join us on the day.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life is a series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s North West spokesman, said: “Ellie and her family are an absolute inspiration.

“By following their lead and joining the Race For Life in Leigh, people can make a real difference in the fight against cancer.

“Our Race For Life events are fun, colourful, emotional and uplifting. You don’t need to be sporty to take part. You don’t have to train and you certainly don’t need to compete against anyone else."

To enter Race for Life, visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.