Meet the marathon runners running the extra 26.2 kilometers after the health struggles


Meet the London Marathon runners who have beaten the odds to reach the starting line on Sunday.

This incredible trio already deserves medals and their courage and determination should help feed them through 26.2 miles.

Ben Atkins, 21, made a miraculous recovery after a diagnosis of terminal cancer four years ago.

Del Singh, 56, was told he would die without gastric banding and lose eight stones.

And Issy McNeile, 26, will take up the course despite having cystic fibrosis in the lung.

In addition to achieving what some have said to be impossible, they hope to raise thousands for charities close to their hearts.

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Miracle on the starting line after only having weeks to live

Ben was told that he would not see his 18th birthday

Not long ago, 21-year-old Ben Atkins was picking up his tombstone.

But today, he will take on the 26.2 miles, free of the cancer he thought was terminal.

At age 17, doctors gave her weeks to live after a two-year battle with Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Ben started palliative care and even went on a family vacation.

But a miracle happened six months later, when he began to feel "strangely well."

And a sweep revealed that he was indeed in remission.

Ben, from Berkhamsted, Herts, took over the long distance race a year ago to stay in shape after getting in shape.

But he said, "It will be a big challenge because years of chemotherapy have struck my body."

And he's raising money for the charity that supported him for his illness – the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Recalling the time when he discovered that the cancer was terminal, he said, "Knowing that I would die was not a shock after years of treatment, but it made me determined to spend every moment with friends and family.

"It was a very emotional moment – I even chose where I would be buried. Like everyone else, I remained hopeful that I would somehow defy the odds. Being that person feels incredible.

The consultants were perplexed by the turnaround, but they think maybe a stem cell transplant that Ben had two years earlier started working later than he should.

But after cancer destroyed his teenage years, Ben went into remission

"To this day no one knows for sure how I am still alive. But I do not dwell on that.

Ben's cancer symptoms started appearing at age 14. Exhausted, he lost weight and had to stop running, rugby, soccer and swimming.

Scans revealed two tumors in the chest.

Treated at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at University College Hospital in London, he had "dozens" of chemotherapy and radiation therapy sessions. It was given the clear in 2013 and 2014, but fell.

"Every physical act was a battle," he recalled. "The simplest tasks, from getting out of bed to maintaining relationships with friends and loved ones, have become almost insurmountable tasks."

In 2014, Ben did a stem cell transplant, donated by his brother Joseph, of "needle phobia," now 23 years old.

But a scan in December 2015 revealed that the tumor had grown to "the size of a tennis ball" and Ben and his mother, Anya, 51, were told it was incurable.

"It was very difficult," Ben said.

A "last" holiday for the Maldives with Anya, Joseph and his sister Grace, 19, allowed them to have a good time together.

But when the weeks turned into months, Ben realized that he felt "the same".

"And after five months, I really felt good."

Everyone was "on the moon" when a scan in 2016 revealed that he was in remission. "At first, I did not want to trust the results, but I started to have fun again."

Ben went on to pass his A levels and earned a place at Oxford University to study law.

Ben's first races left him exhausted due to muscle fatigue after years of bed rest and treatment.

He also has graft against host disease – a complication of his transplant, which means his muscles and skin are tense and cause discomfort.

But he says, "The thinking of the people who will benefit from the money I raise will keep me alive."

  • Donate at and search for Ben Atkins

Cystic fibrosis does not define me

Issy is rushing to prove a point about cystic fibrosis

A lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis in lung conditions gave Issy McNeile a good reason to end the race.

Because her sister also has CF, and spent ten days in intensive care in September – and law student Issy, 26, promised to show her that the disease "will not define them."

The genetic condition causes abscesses in Issy's lungs and frequent lung infections.

She said, "At my worst I struggle to walk, talk, and breathe. I want to prove to us that CF will not stop us from reaching our goals. "

Big sister Alice, 27, has the gene, but not the disease. CF affects more than 10,500 people in the UK.

This causes the body to produce thick mucus, affecting people differently.

Issy from London said: "For me they are my lungs, I spent my life in and out of the hospital. Lucy is more digestion.

Lucy, 24, was hospitalized with internal bleeding.

Issy said: "It was difficult, I could not visit. I want to be a role model. "

Despite a recent complication and being on antibiotics, Issy is determined to run.

She said, "It will be an exciting day."

Op helped me to escape eight stone

Del Singh in 2013 before the surgery, which began its transformation

The morbid and obese father, Del Singh, was told he would die at age 60 if he did not lose weight.

But he is eyeing the finish line after paying for gastric surgery – instead of a new kitchen.

Del, 56, weighed 23 pounds when he used his £ 10,000 savings for a private operation after the bleak prognosis.

He said, "I realized I did not need a new kitchen as much as my wife needed me alive."

Eating soup and tiny portions of scrambled eggs, the father of five lost eight stones in three years, falling to 15.5 stone.

The sedentary lifestyle of the former computer consultant, in addition to his love of curry, pop and fry-ups, saw him grow with the weight.

Grandad-of-five Del said: "I had problems with blood pressure, cholesterol and back pain. Walking even a short distance took my breath away.

But he was not yet "heavy enough" for NHS surgery.

By 2015, Peterborough Del, has paid to have 15% of his stomach removed.

He started walking and would do 10km every night.

Del is now eight stone lighter than he was

Walk became racing and he plans to do three races in three months for Cancer Research.

Today's race is the final push.

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