As a family we’d never heard of retinoblastoma ever before our daughter, Harper-Rose, was diagnosed with the eye cancer when she was a baby. 

The signs we first noticed was that Harper’s eye could never focus straight forward – it was wandering off to the left and then in pictures we started noticing a white flash in her left eye even when the camera flash wasn’t on.  

Once she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, Harper had chemotherapy on three occasions and she’s still currently receiving laser treatment. However, she is really good and she’s doing great – we still attend Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital once every six weeks for regular check-ups and treatments. 

Festus with his partner stood outside smiling

Since my little girl Harper was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, I felt helpless but knew I wanted to do something. I got my running shoes out with a group of close friends and started running, and then we decided to run and try to raise not just money but awareness for other people who like us who hadn’t heard of retinoblastoma and could miss the signs that luckily for us we didn’t miss. So far, in the last 18 months, I’ve raised close to £20,000 for both CHECT and the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and I’m going to continue to keep raising money for them both. 

I took on the Liverpool half marathon for CHECT on the 28th March. I stated training by myself at first just a few miles a day, and then a few of my close friends asked me if they could start doing it with me. Before I knew it, there was 10 of us, so we started our own running group called Cool Runnings which now has lots of people who are part of it.  

Festus' CHECT top has been personalised with a photo of Harper

I was meant to run the London Marathon back in 2022 for CHECT. Missing the London Marathon was tough. I’d trained hard for it, but I tore my calf and my Achilles at the same time before the event. Luckily, we still managed to raise close to £4000 and my best friend Jama took over and ran the marathon in my place and he was amazing. The recovery was long, lonely and boring – it was just rest really and lots of physiotherapy work to get me back to running.  

The advice I would give for other people looking to do a running event is do it! Get out there and run – just start slow and short and build on it. Aim for a 3k first then build up to 5k. 

Festus and his friends wearing CHECT tops

We want to thank the doctors that Harper sees at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital. They are the real heroes and deserve so much than they get. I also want to thank CHECT and any other non-profit cancer charity who do things out of the love of their hearts. CHECT have been there from the start offering advice and helping to offer with travel expenses and trying to make a hard situation a bit easier for us. You are the heroes and anything I can do to help I’ll continue to do. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can fundraise for CHECT, visit our fundraising page or email fundraising@chect.org.uk