For Sarah Read, it all started with some nerve pain that got worse when she was driving. In just a few months, she and James would be married, and just weeks after that they would find out that she had sarcoma. She would spend the next six months having intensive chemotherapy and after that invasive surgery on her pelvis to remove the tumour.
It’s not what most newlyweds have to face, but as Sarah and James prepare for the first Black Tie & Sparkle Ball, it’s clear that they are not most newlyweds.
“Sarah’s diagnosis was pretty quick compared to many”, says James. “In fact, it takes the average sarcoma patient three visits to the GP over an 18-month period before being diagnosed.”
The couple are now actively using their experience to get the message out there about sarcoma. Anyone that’s familiar with Sarcoma UK’s communications over the last couple of years will recognise James as the young man running the London Marathon in an enormous golf ball.
After multiple runs and events to raise funds and awareness - James has taken part in two marathons, five half marathons and a 10K - the couple will host the inaugural Black Tie & Sparkle Ball on 24 March in Surrey.
“We want people to understand what sarcoma is and what Sarcoma UK can do for families like ours” says James, who sees the event as a way to share the real life stories of other families affected by sarcoma while raising funds for Sarcoma UK.
The event promises to be memorable. Along with a three course meal, guests can expect live entertainment and a charity auction at the spectacular Denbies Wine Estate, located in the picturesque North Downs of Dorking, Surrey.
There’s no doubting Sarah’s determination. Just a year after surgery that left her unable to walk, she had not only got back on her feet, but completed a 5km Race for Life.
“We felt a sense of normality was finally returning” recalls James, “a new normal, but one we were relatively okay with”. “However, routine scans in September showed our worst fears. The cancer had come back and spread aggressively to her lungs, liver and spine. How was this possible, when she was physically feeling the fittest and strongest since well before diagnosis?”
The couple now know that Sarah’s sarcoma is incurable. As they finalise preparations for the event, Sarah has begun a new round of chemotherapy and remains as determined as ever to make a difference. Part of that difference involves telling more people about sarcoma through the charity ball in March.
“People have been so keen to help so far. It’s humbling.”