Cancer survivor spearheads nationwide campaign

Lisa Costley. INLM22-227.
Lisa Costley. INLM22-227.

A cancer survivor from Magheralin has been chosen to spearhead a major nationwide campaign that invites people to take on their own running challenge and help accelerate life-saving research.

Lisa Costley has been named as a year-long ‘go the distance ambassador’ by Cancer Research UK as it was unveiled as the official charity partner for the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2015.

To celebrate its special year of running, Cancer Research UK has appointed 26 inspirational ambassadors, one to represent each mile of the marathon course.

Like Lisa, each ambassador has gone the distance with cancer themselves or has supported a loved one through their cancer journey. The unique team will now be rallying communities from all across the UK to ‘go their own distance’ for Cancer Research UK by taking up a running challenge this year – whether it’s a long-distance endurance event, a lap of their local playing field, or anything and everything in between.

Having been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia when she was about to start nursery school, Lisa 23, has made an incredible recovery and is currently loving life as a strength and conditioning coach.

One of five sisters, Lisa had to drop out of nursery school and spent 11 months including Christmas and her birthday in hospital.

It was tough for the little girl, who was unable to mix with other children, but eventually she was able to attend primary school.

She had always wanted to be active, so when she started to get her energy back at about seven or eight years of age, she decided she wasn’t going to let the cancer affect her.

Weekly check-ups became monthly and now it is on a yearly basis.

The sports mad girl went on to obtain a first class honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science and is a strength and conditioning coach in the Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) - which she says is the best job in the world.

Lisa, a girl with an ex­tremely positive outlook, has competed for Lurgan Ladies hockey club and Ireland at underage level. She has also taken part in many Race for Life events.

“Cancer Research UK is very close to my heart,” she said, “ and I am delighted to have been chosen as an ambassador in the charity’s very special year of running.

“I’m calling on people across County Armagh to take on just one running challenge over the next 12 months, big or small. Cancer Research UK offers a range of events to suit every age and ability.

“I am here today because of research and know that the funds we raise are helping to ensure that more people, like me, can be treated successfully.”

Jean Walsh, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Northern Ireland said: “Every hour, someone in Northern Ireland is diagnosed with cancer.

“We are calling on people to go the distance for Cancer Research UK this year because the race to beat cancer is well underway, but there is still much to be done.

“In the lead up to the Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 we’d love to see thousands more people pounding the pavement and raising funds to ensure more men, women and children in the Northern Ireland survive the disease.

“But you don’t need to run 26 miles to help beat cancer sooner. From 5k Race for Life events, to marathons and half marathons, we are encouraging people to take on their own distance, their own way. It really doesn’t matter how fit or fast you are.

One way you could get involved is by supporting DJ Sonya Mac who will be hitting the ground running this June as she sets herself the colossal challenge of running six marathons in six weeks in six counties.

The popular radio star is organising the mammoth feat – which she is calling the ‘Mac-athon’ – in aid of Cancer Research UK as a tribute to her dad, James, who died last June from cancer of the stomach at the age of just 65.

It was only six weeks from when Sonya’s dad was diagnosed with cancer last April until he died. This was all the more shocking as he had no symptoms and the disease was only picked up when her parents moved house and registered with a new GP who did some routine blood tests. Further tests revealed he had cancer in his upper stomach which had spread into his liver.

There are many ways you can help:-

You can register to take part in one or all of the six marathons.

Decide to do a little running with some of your friends and raise some sponsorship.

Register to volunteer at the marathon in your area. Volunteers will be especially needed at the fun event afterwards.

Or you can make a donation – all the money raised is going directly to Cancer Research UK.

There will be a fun day at the end of each marathon with bouncy castles, face painting and lots for all the family to enjoy.

The Marathon for County Armagh will take place on June 21.

To Register and find out more details of dates and routes being taken by Sonya, visit –

By taking part in this challenge, people will be helping Cancer Research UK researchers in the ultimate challenge of bringing forward the day when all cancers are cured.

The official Virgin Money London Marathon ballot opens in the early hours of Tuesday, April 22 and is likely to have reached capacity by lunchtime. Cancer Research UK is encouraging people to join its biggest ever running team. The charity also offers a number of Golden Bond places that can be applied for.

For more information on Cancer Research UK’s running events, visit: or to join the charity’s Virgin Money London Marathon team, visit: