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Premnay youngster raises almost £1500 for family friend's cancer treatment

By Kirsty Brown

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A Premnay youngster has raised almost £1500 for a family friend living with a terminal cancer diagnosis after taking on a month long running challenge.

13 year old Rhian Birnie pledged to run 5km every day in August to raise funds after being moved by the plight of fellow running enthusiast Marie Dobson who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2019.

In 2016 Marie was diagnosed with breast cancer.

A keen athlete and personal trainer, the diagnosis came as a shock to Marie but after undergoing a year of gruelling treatment - including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a double mastectomy - Marie was able start rebuilding her life (and her body) free from cancer.

As we entered 2019 Marie felt she was ready to try for a family using her own eggs which had been frozen prior to undergoing treatment, however she sustained a small injury while waiting to undergo checks to make sure her body was ready which she found worsened and moved around her body, rather than healed.

In the weeks following her scan Marie carried on with life, managing the pain as best she could and trying not to be too nervous about what the results would be, but on June 5 2019 she was called into ARI to be told that her cancer had returned and spread to her bones.

Marie Dobson jumps for joy with her running friends at a Run4Marie fundraiser.
Marie Dobson jumps for joy with her running friends at a Run4Marie fundraiser.

Recalling the moment her life was turned upside down, Marie said: "My head started spinning, my heart sank - no cure?

"We came out of the room, Neil hugged me tight as I cried in his arms.

"My world had been turned upside down again.

"What did I do to deserve this?

"I called my family and best friend - the news hit them hard; it crushed them, their eyes showed the pain.

"We dug deep, we started the treatment, we started the fight."

Determined not to give up, Marie pushed on with treatment and organised the first Run4Marie fundraising event with the help of friends, and she was riding on the high of the event's success when the doctors had to deliver another blow - the treatment wasn't working and the cancer had continued to spread.

She switched to a different treatment plan which appeared to be working, motivating Marie to keep living life to the full even as the pandemic hit, but in September 2020 treatment had to be halted to allow for further tests as her body struggled to cope.

In November she learned that the cancer had spread into her bone marrow, and the news hit her hard.

She said: "The doctor said 'Marie the cancer has spread into your bone marrow, the prognosis is up to a year.'

"My heart broke, my body felt limp, my head was ringing."

With the doctor's encouragement and a lot of dedicated research carried out with the help of her loved ones, Marie is now using a combination of alternative treatments in "one last here we go".

Commenting on her motivation Marie said: "I have secondary breast cancer with bone and bone marrow metastasis.

"The prognosis is not good, the prognosis is terminal.

"At 38 I want to live, I want to see my beautiful nieces grow up.

"I want to be in this world for as long as possible."

Rhian Birnie.
Rhian Birnie.

Explaining her decision to raise money for Marie's treatment, Rhian - a member of YoungMeldrum Runners - wrote: "Marie is living proof that you can give cancer a good fight.

"She's really sick but you would never know.

"Most people are angry and bitter, but not Marie.

"She is the happiest person I know, always making life fun and she has the biggest heart.

"Marie would help anyone; I know if I was sick Marie would do something to help me.

"She might be strong and fighting as hard as she can but even superheroes need sidekicks"

After some consideration she set her fundraising target at £250...and had surpassed this within an hour.

She then increased her target to £500, and within a week had smashed this target too.

Mum Michelle said: "Within an hour we were past her first goal, then by the end of the week we had managed to double it.

"We really only thought she might get a little money from family and close friends, but have been totally overwhelmed with everybody's generosity.

"It has all been really overwhelming for us all.

"We spoke with Marie to learn more about her treatment and how much it costs, and Rhian said she'd like to try and raise £1000 since she'd already passed £500.

"We knew this was really ambitious and decided to not announce this new goal, but she's smashed it anyway - it's really overwhelming.

"Rhian has really found a double benefit in this challenge, she's not just helped a friend but she's also feeling the difference in herself."

While she initially struggled with the challenge, Rhian has grown to enjoy her daily runs so much that she has decided to continue doing 5K runs four times a week.

The Justgiving page will remain open for a few more days to allow for any final donations.

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