TWO Truro friends ran the London Marathon in aid of their favourite charities.

TV producer Millie Bird and Dr Meme Wijesinghe, a respiratory consultant at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, have known each other since their children were classmates at St Mary’s CofE primary school.

Both spent hours training in the country lanes around Truro, Idless and Malpas, venturing to the Camel Trail for some flat terrain.

This year’s marathon was the third for Millie, 55, who achieved a time of four hours and 43 minutes and raised over £2,000 for the Stroke Association.

“My wonderful mum had a devastating stroke last summer which left her half-paralysed, unable to speak or swallow,” she explains. “Recovery has been painstakingly slow and she is now in long-term care, unable to do anything for herself.

“Before the stroke, mum was very active - six kids, lots of grandkids, daily dog walks, bake sales, book group, choir, gardening - you name it. It's been heartbreaking to see her gradually 'disappear'.”

A stroke affects someone in the UK every five minutes. While Millie’s mother was in her late 80s, many patients on the stroke ward were much younger - including one in her 20s.

“The Stroke Association funds life-changing research into treating stroke, and helps survivors and their families rebuild their lives,” said Millie.

Meme completed the course in four hours and 40 minutes and described herself as “exhausted but elated”.

She has raised £4,400 – double her target – for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

“Telling someone they have lung cancer is one of the hardest parts of my job,” she said. “The diagnosis is met with a huge range of emotions: sadness, anger, despair and in some cases relief, as finally there is an explanation for their symptoms.

“But I don’t think you can ever truly understand how those few words can make your world fall apart, until you’ve been in that position yourself.”

Meme, 51, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.

“When I found a lump in my breast, I attended a one-stop clinic where I was seen by a breast consultant, underwent a mammogram, had a biopsy and told I had breast cancer all in one afternoon,” she recalls. “I underwent a mastectomy and five years of hormonal treatment. I feel incredibly fortunate that I am a cancer survivor.

“I learnt a lot in that time, particularly how lung cancer patients are treated differently when compared with other cancers.”

Many of her patients wait significantly longer for a diagnosis, because the symptoms – which include tiredness and weight loss - are not associated with cancer. A late diagnosis means an advanced cancer which can’t be cured.

There’s also the misconception that patients with lung cancer have themselves to blame as they are, or have been smokers.

In fact, a significant proportion were unaware of the dangers when they smoked, and diagnosis rates in non-smokers are rising - particularly in younger females, among whom it kills more than breast and ovarian cancer put together.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation played a crucial role in the implementation of the lung cancer screening programme at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in October 2023.

“In just five months of screening we have diagnosed 33 lung cancers, most of which were early-stage, and we have been able to offer curative treatment,” said Meme.

Both women can be found on