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Bruce uses the Great North Run to say thank you

A man being who is being treated at St Oswald's is walking the Great North Run in aid of the charity along with the nurse who supported him through a leg amputation.

Bruce Smith, 53 from Birtley, is undertaking a personal challenge to complete the Great North Run to raise money for St Oswald's Hospice as a way to give something back for the care he receives. Bruce has been supported by both our Lymphoedema Clinic and Focus on Living Centre, and now comes to the hospice once a month for a patient drop-in session to monitor his condition.

Due to a tumour in his ankle, Bruce had a lower knee amputation in 2017 at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), where he was supported by Laura Trzpil, 27, an orthopaedic nurse on the hospital’s ward 42. After striking up a friendship, the two decided to walk the Great North Run this year.

Bruce tells us more about his motivations to take part in this year’s Great North Run:

I had a lower leg amputation as my cancer was causing a lot of problems in my foot, so much so I was using crutches. Although I still have cancer in my arm, shoulder and kidneys, I feel like I have been given a new lease of life as I am much more mobile.

I’m still getting used to walking on my prosthetic leg, so when my nurse, Laura, at the RVI suggested we sign up for the Great North Run together, I thought it would be a good idea to get me motivated.


Although this will be a personal challenge for me, another motivation is to raise money for the Hospice. I want to give something back for all that St Oswald’s has done for me.


Laura added:

As a nurse, part of my job is to make sure that patients laugh. I met Bruce when he was in the RVI for almost two weeks following his operation. We just started having a laugh and I’d speak to him and his wife and our friendship started from there.


I’ve always wanted to take part in the Great North Run but never really pushed myself, and it’s great to know its moral support for Bruce.


If Bruce’s story has motivated you to challenge yourself and try something new, you can sign up to be part of St Oswald’s Great North Run 2019 team. We’ll be offering places for a massive 75% discount – just £14! – on the day of the run only, from the first runners setting off to the last runner finishing. Visit www.stoswaldsuk.org/great-north-run-2019 to find out more.