‘Doctors thought I might never walk’ – Hitchin family set for London Marathon 20 years after leukaemia diagnosis

The de Woolf family: Rosie, Maisie and Stuart are running this year's London Marathon.

The de Woolf family: Rosie, Maisie and Stuart are running this year's London Marathon. - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin family who featured in the Comet almost 20 years ago as they bravely faced their daughter’s leukaemia are showing their tremendous fighting spirit by teaming up to tackle this year’s London Marathon.

Stuart and Rosie de Wolf with a young Maisie and brother Jack in the Comet in 1997.

Stuart and Rosie de Wolf with a young Maisie and brother Jack in the Comet in 1997. - Credit: Archant

Little Maisie de Wolf was just 14 months old when she was struck down by leukaemia in June 1995.

She then faced a two-year battle alongside her loving family to beat the disease after being warned she might not have been able to walk or talk, even if she survived at all.

But Maisie triumphed against the disease and has been able to live a full and healthy life since – the 21-year-old is now studying biomedical sciences at the University of Exeter.

She is hoping to become a doctor, after being inspired by the dedication and professionalism of the experts who helped her during her fight against the killer illness.


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Maisie said: “I’ll be running for Children with Cancer UK. I managed to secure a place through the charity only to discover my mum and dad also signed up as a surprise for me!

“Children with Cancer UK provided vital support for my family 19 years ago when I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and is a charity very close to our hearts.

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“Due to the leukaemia and side effects of the chemotherapy, there was a possibility I might never have walked or talked – but having beaten this I am determined to run this marathon and raise money to help other young children fighting cancer across the country.”

Speaking to the Comet in 1997, mum Rosie said: “When the doctors told us Maisie had acute lymphatic leukaemia everything else in our lives had to stop.

“The next month was awful with Maisie developing all sorts of complications and infections resulting from the chemotherapy.”

Now she says: “Thankfully Maisie has made a full recovery, but when she was being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital the offices of Children with Cancer were opposite. I used to go there and stuff envelopes and make the coffee to take my mind of things.

“They helped me by distancing myself from the reality of Maisie’s situation at the time and I never forgot it.

“So we decided to help in a small way by trying to raise money for them – and we wanted to show our solidarity with Maisie by running with her in the marathon.

“I am loving running now. I never saw the point of it before but it makes you appreciate the outdoors and the world around you rather than being stuck indoors – certainly at this time of year!”

To make a donation to Children with Cancer UK and help support Maisie and her family visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/deWolfs.

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