The University of Birmingham and the charity Cure Leukaemia have joined forces once again for the Birmingham, Let's Cure Leukaemia campaign, which aims to help the city find a cure for blood cancer in the next 30 years.
In 2003, former England, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers footballer Geoff Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and was given less than three months to live. However, following treatment by Cure Leukaemia Co-founder and University of Birmingham Professor Charlie Craddock, and a bone marrow transplant from his sister, Geoff has been in remission since January 2005.
‘I can remember getting my diagnosis like it was yesterday,’ Geoff says. ‘It terrified me and made me re-evaluate everything but the moment I met Charlie I knew I was in safe hands.’
‘The highlight of my professional career was beating Liverpool to take Crystal Palace to Wembley to play in the FA Cup semi-final for the first time, but I felt more joy when I found out I was in remission.
‘Ten years on, I support Cure Leukaemia’s work because it is generating new hope for thousands of other leukaemia patients like me.’
To celebrate ten years in remission from leukaemia, Geoff has teamed up with Cure Leukaemia and the University of Birmingham to raise £500,000 to ensure more patients can access lifesaving treatments like he did.
On 18th June 2015, Geoff led 300 cyclists in London 2 Paris: Inspiring The Revolution, riding 500km in four days for Birmingham, Let's Cure Leukaemia. Later that summer, he cycled all twenty-one stages of the Tour de France, just one day ahead of Le Tour 2015.
Commenting on his work with Cure Leukaemia at the University, Geoff Thomas said:
“After I went into remission, I had no idea what I would be doing ten years on, but being in such good health and having returned as a Patron of Cure Leukaemia I want to get more involved and help to raise awareness and funds that I know will make a direct impact on the development of new treatments for patients who are in the same position as I was a decade ago. I’m hoping that my efforts will inspire the public to get behind us and donate to Cure Leukaemia and the University of Birmingham and help us to save more lives.”
Based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Professor Charlie Craddock has stated his ambition that Birmingham will find a cure for all blood cancers within the next 30 years and Geoff is determined to raise funds to advance this progress.
Much of this work will be taking place in conjunction with scientists at the Institute of Translational Medicine, a transformational building based next to the University of Birmingham and Queen Elizabeth Hospital that will bring together patients, researchers and clinicians under one roof. Its location in the heart of Birmingham also means that patients with a range of other cancers and life-threatening diseases form one of the largest patient populations in Europe can benefit from access to new drug and transplant therapies. New treatments which will be pioneered in Birmingham and save lives, like those that saved Geoff.