After volunteering as a proud member of Bristol Marrow, and experiencing cancer in her own friends and family, Lauren decided to take on the London Marathon as part of #TeamAN. This is her story.
I found out about Anthony Nolan whilst at school, and signed up as soon as I could. I've always been a blood and organ donor so when I found out I could sign up to potentially donate my stem cells, I signed up immediately!
It was only at university when I became more involved with Anthony Nolan itself.
I saw that there was a small Marrow group at the University of Bristol, and loved the idea that I could be part of a charity and society that could actually make a real, physical difference by getting people to spit in a tube and sign up to the register.
Ever since, I was hooked. The charity and all the people involved are fantastic and really supportive and caring in every way. It truly does feel like an Anthony Nolan family, even though there are so many of us!
Since then, every run I do is all in aid of Anthony Nolan, as I know first-hand the fantastic work it does and the support it gives to families.
My Anthony Nolan experience
Ironically enough, after I became involved in Anthony Nolan, I kept hearing about more and more people I know being affected by blood cancers and disorders. One of my childhood friends was diagnosed with lymphoma; another friend's daughter needed a stem cell transplant, and received one in time thanks to Anthony Nolan!
The little one is now happy, healthy and well; I know from speaking to them how much support Anthony Nolan gives prior, during and post transplant.
Running a marathon has been an ambition of mine for a while, but I didn't plan on doing so this early on in my life (23 years old, and only 2 years after doing a half marathon which killed me!).
Sadly, however, my Granddad and role model was diagnosed with inoperable, incurable, lung cancer in February 2016. He was a marathon runner until he was 60 years old and I wanted to make him proud, one last time, even if he wasn't there to see me complete it.
Although he has lung cancer, it was natural to me if I was going to do the London Marathon that it would be for my most beloved charity, Anthony Nolan.
Fortunately for me, Granddad is still around as we speak, and beyond my wildest dreams, he may even get to see me complete the London marathon at this rate!
It is a fantastic feeling as I imagined it would be in his memory when I signed up, but I feel so lucky that he's had the chance to see and hear about me training hard, and may even get to see and hear about me crossing the finish line in April - touchwood!
My London marathon
Training has been hard; last summer, I got an injury that set me back and kept me in the house for most of the autumn. So when I came back to fitness, the evenings were dark, cold and rainy, which is hard work.
I am currently running around 15km maximum and I am slowly building it up to longer runs each week, and plan to get up to 25-30km before the London marathon itself.
This is tough for me (although surely no-one enjoys having to get up early on your weekend and run for two hours in the cold and pouring rain!) but I battle on.
Living in London, really close to Victoria Park and the Olympic Park really helps; there are so many lovely routes around there and I never get bored. The Moana soundtrack has been getting me through lately as well. (Very inspiring!)
It’s my Granddad, and all the people I know affected by blood cancers and disorders around the UK, that get me through each early get-up, each painful run, each injury! I’m fortunate enough to be healthy, and I have the amazing opportunity to run and help those less fortunate than me.