Pie run a driver for cancer survivor

By Paul Charman

The Pork Pie Charity Run has special significance for one participant, writes Paul Charman

Cancer survivor Naomi McRae will drive her own Mini in the Pork Pie Charity Run. Naomi's employer, PwC, has the car on display.
Cancer survivor Naomi McRae will drive her own Mini in the Pork Pie Charity Run. Naomi's employer, PwC, has the car on display.

With 50-plus Minis driving almost the length of the country this Easter, the Pork Pie Charity Run recalls a much-loved comedic Kiwi driving movie. But it also has a serious side.

This year's run, the third one held, will raise funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ, after an extraordinary cancer recovery touching the family of co-organisers Murray and Annie Hemsley.

Following their daughter, Naomi McRae's, diagnosis with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2010, and thankful for the support and care provided, the couple decided to support the organisation that helped them so much.

Back in early 2010, newlywed Naomi McRae was settling back into a new life in New Zealand after an exciting OE.

Surrounded by friends and family, a new husband and colleagues and getting stuck into work once more, everything was going so well.

Yet, a feeling of fatigue was not going away and other symptoms were starting to cause her concern.

Starting with itchy feet and extreme fatigue, Naomi checked in with her GP for blood tests.

While waiting on the results of a test, Naomi collapsed in a shopping mall a week before her 30th birthday and was rushed to hospital for a 10-day stay.

A chest x-ray, a surgical biopsy to the chest and a bone marrow biopsy confirmed Hodgkin's lymphoma and the presence of a 12cm tumour in her chest.

Naomi began a fortnightly six-month course of chemotherapy, just before Christmas 2010, to fight against the cancer.

She says the support she and her family received from Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) at this time was crucial in giving her hope and getting her through.

"LBC is simply an amazing charity that made the biggest difference to me and my family in absorbing the shock of having such life-changing news," she says.

"They made things less scary by giving a level of personal support and care the hospital and medical staff do not have the resources to provide."

Following chemotherapy, and halfway through her course of radiotherapy, on August 1, 2011, Naomi received the incredible news she was in remission.

More good news followed.

At a routine follow-up radiotherapy oncology appointment, shortly after learning she was in remission, Naomi was astonished to learn she was pregnant.

Surprising, because following her treatment, the doctors said it was unlikely she'd have children.

A healthy baby boy named Lauchlan was born last May and his mum and dad couldn't have been happier.

*Naomi's story, indicative of the comprehensive care extended to cancer patients and their families by Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, touched us at Driven. BMW New Zealand has kindly supplied us a car to take part in the run, which will be driven by Paul Charman and his wife, Debra-Rose.

The Pork Pie run is from Thursday, March 28, to Wednesday, April 3. For details and how to donate, see porkpie.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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