They were best pals at school and now years later one of them runs her heart out for a friend with a potentially deadly lung disease.
Cubbington woman Helen Sabin has one of the rarest diseases in the world – lymphangioleiomyomatosis, known as LAM – a lung condition which only affects women.
And her pal Lisa Marsden from their days more than 30 years ago at Our Lady and St Teresa’s Catholic School in Cubbington and North Leamington School has just raised nearly £1,000 for research into LAM by taking part in the Great North Run.
Despite the debilitating heat, Lisa, aged 45, did the run in two hours and nine seconds, and said: “It was so hot people were falling like flies. Big men had passed out because they hadn’t drunk enough.”
The former school nurse now lives in Newcastle but regularly visits the area to see her parents Kath and Chris McNally, of Knightley Close, Cubbington.
“What kept me going was the thought of helping Helen. When I’m out of breath and healthy, it makes you think how bad it is for Helen.”
Lisa has raised thousands over the years for LAM Action to fund research and a grateful Helen, of Girvan Grove, Cubbington, said: “She’s wonderful – amazing support. Lisa was a best friend at school and we’ve always remained pals. She’s very thoughtful and caring.”
Now unable to work, Helen, aged 45, a former recruitment consultant, has two teenage children and her husband Charlie is related to the Sabin family who ran bakery shops in Leamington.
She was diagnosed with the disease six years ago when the former netball player suffered a collapsed lung while playing.
It is kept in check with drugs and Helen has to be hooked up to oxygen for hours, but said: “I was told I had five years to live but I know people who have had it for 20 years plus, so I intend to stay around a lot longer.”