Inspiring messages from sports celebs including Mo Farah that helped cancer sufferer Gemma Hillier's battle
A video with messages of support from sporting superstars could not have come at a better time for Gemma Hillier when she was fighting cancer.
The 24-year-old runner, from Loughborough, had just had her first session of chemotherapy when the five-minute video arrived with goodwill messages from Manchester City FC star Carlos Tevez, tennis champion Rafa Nadal, US Olympic legend Carl Lewis and double gold Olympic runner Mo Farah.
Gemma, pictured, who works in retail brand marketing for Nike, was sent the video, which also included messages from her bosses, by her colleagues.
Now in remission, she was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system, which helps the body fight infection – in July.
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Gemma, a former pupil of Stonehill High School, Birstall, said: "I had just finished my first chemotherapy session and my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes had fallen out.
"Apart from the moment I was first told I had cancer, it was my lowest time. The sight and sound of all these amazing sporting stars sending messages just to me was a real thrill.
"It gave me the determination not to be beaten by this thing in my body. The video could not have come at a better time."
Gemma, who has won county cross-country titles and competed in Europe with Charnwood Athletic Club, amazed doctors by running a half-marathon three days after finishing another course of chemotherapy.
She was only allowed to tackle the 13-mile Great North Run, in Newcastle, after she had been cleared in a blood test the day before.
She was running for the Our Space Appeal which aims to raise £1.4 million to transform the children and young people's cancer unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Her run has raised £13,000 and people are still donating.
Running club Huncote Harriers heard of Gemma's efforts and this week donated £1,000 from its annual charity fund-raiser, the Joy Cann 5 run.
Gemma, finished the Great North Run in two hours, 20 minutes.
She met Olympic gold medal rower James Cracknell before she ran it and chatted to Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis afterwards.
Gemma said: "When I was told I had cancer, I thought I was going to die.
"I sat there and cried my eyes out. All I could think about was that I was going to be dead.
"But after a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself I decided I was going to fight the cancer. I have been a keen runner since I was very young, so I have always been in good shape so I knew if anyone could beat this I could."
Gemma's father Nigel, 56, of Loughborough, is immensely proud of his daughter.
"She has amazed all of us including the doctors and nurses with her powers of recovery," said Nigel, a financial adviser.
Huncote Harriers Club chairman Andy Wilford said: "We are more than happy to give money to help Gemma. She is an inspiration to all of us."
Anyone who wants to donate to Gemma's fund-raising for the Our Space appeal should go to: