A woman is preparing to go the distance in memory of her best friend who died of a brain tumour. 

Humaira Shakil told her “best friend, soul sister and partner in crime” Amani Liaquat that she would run the TCS London Marathon for her. Following Amani’s death last year, that is exactly what she plans to do.

The 24-year-old from Luton, who met Amani in secondary school, is not a natural runner but is sure her determination to complete the iconic 26.2-mile race in Amani’s memory will see her through. 

She will be running in aid of Brain Tumour Research, a charity Amani supported during her courageous 22-month battle with the disease. 

As well as taking on numerous fundraising activities for the charity, which included setting up the Fight4Hope fundraising group and organising Luton’s first ever Walk of Hope, Amani was a passionate campaigner and an integral part of the charity’s Brain Tumour Petition and Stop the Devastation campaigns. 

Humaira, a part-qualified accountant, said: “My cousin ran the marathon in 2021 and I think I got the idea from that. 

“I’ve never done cardio or running, although I do go to the gym, but I told Amani I was going to do it for her, so now I feel like I’ve got to fulfil that.

“I don’t think Amani actually truly believed me when I said I was going to do it but knowing how proud she’d be is definitely going to get me through when I feel I can’t do it.”

Asian Image:

Humaira celebrating Amani's 23 birthday

Amani, a master’s student and first-class honours law graduate, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM) in April 2020 after collapsing at home on her 22nd birthday.

After NHS standard of care failed to stop the growth of her tumour, Amani’s family decided to source life-prolonging treatment from Germany for which they, with the help of relatives, friends and strangers, raised more than £100,000 in 24 hours. The residue of this was generously gifted to the charity after her death.

Sadly, Amani’s condition deteriorated markedly after being told at the end of 2021 that she had exhausted all her treatment options. 

She died in February last year, six weeks before Tom Parker, lead singer of band The Wanted, with whom she formed a close friendship because of their shared diagnosis. 

Asian Image:

Humaira with Amani

Humaira added: “Amani had such a fiery personality and I just bounced off her energy. She was my go-to, my everything, my best friend – we were completely inseparable. Anyone who knew her can vouch for how big her personality was; she had an impact on everyone she met.

“It was really hard seeing her go through what she did and not be able to help, but I was so proud of the awareness she raised and promised to continue her legacy, which is what I intend to do. 

“I had no knowledge of brain tumours before Amani got ill but now I know how deadly they can be and how little is being invested in research, I’m disappointed more isn’t being done and honoured to be continuing to raise awareness and funds in her name.

“I’m feeling nervous because I know it’s going to be hard but I’m doing it for her. She was an amazing person, someone I looked up to for inspiration and still do. She had a glimmer of hope which never died and was so very special. 

“It’s going to be hard not having her there to see me at the end but doing it in her name will make it worthwhile.”

Carol Robertson, national events manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Amani was indeed a very special young woman who campaigned passionately right up until the end. Many times she could be heard saying 'it might be too late for me but I want to make a change for others'. She was a source of inspiration for all who knew her and it is of no surprise that this is continuing even after her sad passing. 

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. We’re determined to change this and are so grateful to Humaira for taking on this huge challenge for us.

"We wish Humaira the best of luck with her training and look forward to cheering her across the finish line on the day.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

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