London Marathon: Nockolds worker Sarah Ockenden runs for teenage cancer charity Steph's Wishes
A small, local charity will be given a big cash and awareness boost thanks to first-time marathon runner Sarah Ockenden, who works in Bishop's Stortford.
Mother-of-two Sarah, 38, an employee at Nockolds Solicitors in Market Square, obtained a ballot place in this year's Virgin Money London Marathon and decided to raise money for Steph's Wishes, which helps young people aged 18-25 who have recurring or terminal cancer.
The Braughing-based cause is Nockolds' charity of the year. It was set up in memory of Stephanie Knight, who died from a rare and aggressive bone or soft tissue cancer called Ewing's sarcoma. She was just 21 when she died, surrounded by her family, in May 2013.
Steph was diagnosed at 17 and started treatment in September 2009. She had 12 cycles of aggressive chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy, which finished in 2012.
She was told she was in remission. She started working towards her dream of becoming a pre-school teacher and joined forces with the Teenage Cancer Trust as an ambassador. But, during routine screening in 2012, doctors discovered her cancer had returned.
She started chemo again, but this time it was not effective. Steph was told that to have any chance of survival, she would need a major operation to remove her right hip, pelvis and leg. This was carried out, and she was told that it was a success and that her cancer had gone.
She celebrated her 21st birthday in December 2012 and her loved ones threw a huge party to celebrate. But before the year had ended, she was readmitted to hospital. On New Year's Day 2013, Steph and her family were told the cancer had returned and she was terminally ill. She was given months to live.
She made a bucket list, as she wanted to leave her family and friends with a plenitude of happy memories. Between January and April, she and her loved ones went on spa days, seaside trips and a visit to an ice bar. They also met pop star Gary Barlow, who popped into her Braughing home for a cup of tea.
After she died, the Knight family created Steph's Wishes to keep her legacy alive and to help other families in the position that they once were. They give young adults with cancer 'memory days', which can range from a simple family meal cooked at home by a chef to a stay in a five-star London hotel.
Steph's mum, Cindy, is one of the team who run Steph's Wishes and Michelle Ives, one of Sarah's colleagues at Nockolds, is good friends with her.
"I felt that the fact it is a small, local charity, I was really touched by it," Sarah said. "The big charities get a lot of exposure."
So far Sarah has generated more than £1,300. To sponsor her, visit her online donation page at mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/sarahockenden1