Sheffield woman's Great Wall of China trek to help find myeloma cure

Matt Bird and Kerry Varley
Matt Bird and Kerry Varley
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A Sheffield woman will trek the Great Wall of China to raise money to cure a friend's illness.

Kerry Varley, who lost five stone in order to undertake the trek, aims to help fund a clinical trial to find a cure for myeloma.

Kerry Littlewood before losing five stone

Kerry Littlewood before losing five stone

A good friend of Mrs Varley, Matt Bird, has been diagnosed with the disease.

Mr Bird is aged just 40, and may not see his young children grow up.

The illness is a cancer of the plasma cells, causing bone disease, recurring infections and chronic fatigue.

A team of researchers in Sheffield is leading the way in finding a cure, but they need £90,000 to fund a trial into the disease.

That's where Mrs Varley, 40, and the China trek come in. She's leaving her husband and two small children at home to complete it.

She and the other trekkers begin on October 7. The walk takes nine days, with between six and eight hours of hiking per day.

Mrs Varley, a Wadsley Bridge resident, has paid £2,000 for the trip.

Initially, she had £500 as a target, but has upped the ante and will aim for £1,300.

"It would be lovely to get £1,500, but I didn't want to set myself up for a fall," Mrs Varley said.

Mr Bird, who has already undertaken one round of stem cell transplants.

It was supposed to be effective for three years.

"But it's only been three months," he said.

The disease has impacted his and wife Claire's lives enormously.

"I lost all sensation in my legs," Mr Bird said, referring to the side effects of the treatment."

He was thankful for Mrs Varley's trek and fundraising efforts.

"It kind of means everything to me," Mr Bird said.

"They need to take it to clinical trial."

Should he pass away, he

"I don't want to sound callous. We're all going to die, but it impacts the people around you.

"It won't impact me. I'll be gone."

Mrs Varley said she was a 'bit nervous' to undertake the trek.

"I've not, in the past, been a very fit person," Mrs Varley said.

"I've been overweight."

She took up running to lose the weight, and said there was never a better time to walk the wall.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, and now that I've turned 40, it's now or never," she said.

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