A Hong Kong couple will take part in the Virgin London Marathon to raise funds and awareness for the charity that helped them when their son was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer.
Long-term Discovery Bay residents Julian Wyatt, 48, and wife Alison, 45, are running on April 21 to raise money for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust in London.
Their youngest son Toby, now 10, lost his left eye five years ago to medulloepithelioma - a very rare and aggressive form of eye cancer that most commonly affects children between six months and five years old. Julian and Alison, originally from Wales, arrived in Hong Kong in January 1994. Julian works for the Savills property company and Alison at Discovery Bay International School.
During Toby's illness and recovery, the cancer charity was right behind them, providing moral support.
The couple want to give something back now their son is officially in remission, they say.
"We have been supporting them over the past five years with small donations but we really wanted to help them with a bigger donation and also help to raise awareness," Alison said. Toby was first diagnosed in July 2007 when he was four years old. After returning from a family holiday, he complained of a slight headache that soon turned into acute pain in his left eye.
"It all happened very suddenly. He was rushed to Adventist Hospital [in Happy Valley] and was diagnosed with eye cancer by that night," Julian said.
"It was a huge shock to all of us. The tumour had been growing for a long time and it was just too large for the eye to be treated and saved."
Eye specialist Dr Christopher Yu Bing-on operated on Toby to give him a new left eye that now looks perfectly natural. Although that eye has no sight, he still has a 70 per cent field of vision.
In the process, the trust gave encouragement to the Wyatts by offering advice, keeping in touch through e-mail and linking them up with a network of families whose members suffered from similar conditions.
The couple have been training five times a week in preparation for the marathon.
Julian has already run several half-marathons, while Alison completed the 100-kilometre Hong Kong Oxfam Trailwalker four years ago.
Joy Felgate, chief executive of the trust, said: "We are really grateful to Julian and Alison for taking up this huge challenge.
"They can rest assured that every penny raised will go a long way towards helping children with eye cancer. We'll be cheering them on."
The couple have set themselves a fundraising target of £6,000 (HK$71,000).
The Wyatts' fundraising website is at www.justgiving.com/JAWyatt