Dad’S Great South Run After Son’S Leukaemia Battle

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A Dad will take on a running challenge at the Simplyhealth Great South Run to support the hospital ward that cared for his son when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

Ben Slater, from Drayton, is set to run 10 miles for the Piam Brown Ward in Southampton General Hospital, where his five-year-old son Joseph spent time during his three-year treatment for the blood cancer.

In November 2014, Ben and his wife Claire took Joseph to the GP with a reoccurring ear infection and some pin prick spots on his legs.

Within five minutes following his consultation, he was on his way to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in an ambulance to undergo blood tests.

The family were then given the devastating news that Joseph had Leukaemia. He was then transferred to the Piam Brown Ward, which is a specialist child oncology ward.

Joseph’s went through three years and three months of chemotherapy and the family say the care he received was second to none.

Fortunately Joseph’s prognosis was favourable and he is now on the road to recovery, with Dad Ben being inspired to raise money for the ward after seeing families there who were less fortunate than themselves.

He decided to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great South Run, which takes place on Sunday 21 October in Portmsouth.

Ben, 34, said: “On arrival to hospital I left our other two children with a nurse while I was directed to another room. I will never forget the look on my wife’s face as I entered, waiting to hear news about Joseph.

“I didn’t even think about the impact the next two minutes would have on my life as I sat down, I remember it feeling like an out of body experience.

“For a moment I was standing in the corner of the room watching this couple have their whole world ripped from underneath them. It’s still difficult to describe.

“The words “Joseph has Leukaemia” reverberate around my body as we prepared to make the devastating phone calls to tell our loved ones.

“In the aftermath, we had so many questions that we wanted answers to. When Joseph was transferred to Piam Brown, the support from all of the staff on the ward was first class.

“They consistently went above and beyond to care for him, from playworkers, admin staff to nurses and doctors.

“Fortunately, Joseph’s prognosis was favourable and we finally finished three years of chemotherapy in January. He is doing well and is enjoying all of the things he couldn’t do during treatment, such as swimming.

“Having spent time on Piam Brown ward, we became aware that not all families are as lucky as we were and too many children lose their battle.

“Money that is donated to the ward buys all the extras, such as sponsored trips for patients to create memories, board games so that brothers and sisters can also enjoy family time, all the way to simple things like free tea and coffee for parents to remain at their child’s side 24/7.

“Without Piam Brown, Joseph’s fight may have had a more devastating effect on the family and I want to thank them for that.”

Ben will join 20,000 others who will make the Simplyhealth Great South Run their greatest victory this Autumn. Whatever their pace or motivation, thousands will share the satisfaction of completing a 10 mile challenge as they take in the sights and celebrate everything that’s great about Portsmouth.

Ben, who works as a Royal Navy Engineer, hopes to raise over £2,000 through his run and is being joined by his three brothers, sister and mum at the event.

He added: “Joe has collected beads of courage for every treatment or procedure during his illness. In total this is 2244 I hope to raise £1 for each bead he collected.

“Something I definitely didn’t appreciate about a cancer diagnosis is the impact that it can have on the wider family too.

“That is why some of my family also decided to join me for the Simplyhealth Great South Run as they’ve all been affected by it in some way.

“Training is going well for us, we’re managing to put the needed miles in between work and spending time with the family.”

To support Ben’s fundraising visit:

Every runner has a story, it’s time to start yours. Enter the Simplyhealth Great South Run at: