Trio to run London Marathon for research into rare disease LAM

Richard and Matt Sharples and John Bennett, who will run the 2012 London Marathon for the charity LAM Action.

Richard and Matt Sharples and John Bennett, who will run the 2012 London Marathon for the charity LAM Action.

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THREE former Clitheroe Royal Grammar School pupils are lacing up their trainers to raise £3,000 to support women with one of the world’s rarest diseases.

Matt Sharples’ wife Sarah, who works in Clitheroe, was diagnosed with incurable lymphangioleiomyomatosis (known as LAM) in May.

Sarah Sharples

Sarah Sharples

The condition causes cysts to form in the lungs and can cause tumours in other parts of the body.

Matt who lives in Accrington, with Richard Sharples (35), from Blackburn, and John Bennett, from Clitheroe, are running the London Marathon on April 22nd. Matt and Richard are also running the Greater Manchester Marathon seven days later.

They are raising money for charity LAM Action, which supports LAM patients and their families and funds research into the disease.

“This will be my fourth London Marathon and I wanted to push myself that little bit further this time,” said Matt (30), who is head of Learning for Life at Hameldon Community College.

“So we came up with the idea of doing the Manchester run as well. I know we’re gluttons for punishment, but we want to pull out all the stops and raise as much money as we can.

“LAM Action is only a small charity and needs all the support it can get. Just because LAM is incredibly rare it doesn’t mean it’s any less devastating for the women who are struggling to live with it.”

LAM only affects women and there are currently only 180 LAM cases in the UK. There is no cure and only limited treatment at present.

Accountant Sarah underwent tests last November after experiencing excruciating pain in her side. A scan revealed she had a nine centimetre tumour on her kidney and cysts in her lungs

“We got a phone call to say it was cancer. We were absolutely devastated and went through a whole range of emotions as we tried to come to terms with the news,” added Matt.

“Three months later they contacted us to say it wasn’t cancer after all, but suspected it might be something called LAM. We’d never even heard of the disease. It was hard getting our heads around it all.

“I was so grateful the LAM Action website was there, which explained more about the disease and how it affects people. It was a comfort to have it all spelt out so clearly for us.”

Sarah had her kidney and the tumour removed just before Christmas last year and was formally diagnosed with LAM in May after attending the National Referral Centre for patients with LAM.

Tests revealed that, despite the cysts, Sarah’s lung function was excellent, and the couple are hoping the condition continues to remain stable and she can carry on leading a normal life.

Sarah (30) is now back at work at accountancy practice FS Accountants in Lowergate, Clitheroe, which she runs alongside business partner accountant Damian Farragher.

John Bennett (30), from Walker Street, Clitheroe, works at Thornton Sports, Altham.

Matt is already in training for the marathons, running 10 to 15 miles a week. His full marathon plan will kick in the week before Christmas when he will start building up to 50 to 60 miles a week.

To sponsor Matt, Richard and John visit: www.justgiving.com/clitheroeladsmarathons2012. To find out more about LAM visit the charity’s website: www.lamaction.org