Broadstairs dancer to run Manchester marathon in memory of young cousin

Sydney Dening will be running the Manchester Marathon

A dancer from Broadstairs is preparing to run her first marathon in memory of her cousin who died of brain cancer less than two weeks before his 16th birthday.

Sydney Dening will be running the Manchester Marathon on Sunday (14 April) in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research.

The University of East London dance graduate, who has ambitions of becoming a professional dancer, started training for the 26.2-mile race later than she had hoped after tearing a ligament in her left ankle.

She said: “Last year, I did two half-marathons, London Landmarks and Finsbury Park, but just after the second one, I got an injury and wasn’t able to run or dance for six months, from June to December.

“I was discharged from physiotherapy just before Christmas and started my training in January. The programme I’ve followed was meant to be 16 weeks long and I started it two weeks late, but I’m feeling good about it.

“I did my longest run, which was 21 miles, on Monday (1 April) and that went well, so I’m looking forward to the race now.

“When I did London Landmarks last year, the atmosphere was amazing, so I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere in Manchester.”

Callum

The 23-year-old’s support of the charity comes following the death of her cousin Callum Miller to brain cancer in December 2022.

Callum, who lived in San Francisco, California, was diagnosed with primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL), a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma which presented as a tumour in his brain, just before his 11th birthday in December 2017.

As well as undergoing many rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, after which he was in remission for a year, Callum took part in a CAR T-cell clinical trial which gave him two further years in remission.

He died in December 2022 following his third recurrence, hours before he was due to start a new treatment and less than two weeks before his 16th birthday.

Cousins Sydney Dening and Callum Miller

Sydney said: “I didn’t get to see Callum that often, probably every two years, because his family lived so far away, but I saw him a couple of months before he passed. We went to America for his mum and stepdad’s wedding and he was the best man.

“He was funny, caring and selfless. His final act of kindness involved making the decision to donate his tumour tissues to research because he didn’t want other children or families to go through what he did.

“The fact just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours since records began in 2002 makes me determined to help in any way I can and I know that’s what Callum would have wanted too.”

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Callum’s tragic story is a stark reminder of the indiscriminate nature of brain tumours, which can affect anyone at any time. They kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer and yet research into the disease remains woefully underfunded. We’re determined to change that but we can’t do it alone.

“We’re really grateful to Sydney for taking on this huge challenge for us and we wish her the best of luck on race day. Together we will find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.

To support Sydney’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/page/syd-dening-1705585677605.

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